To make Julia Child’s coq au vin, lightly brown 1/2 cup of lardons or thick-cut bacon in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a casserole dish. Set the meat aside, but leave the pan drippings. Set the stovetop to medium-high heat. Cut a 3 1/2- to 4 1/2-pound chicken into parts, and pat them dry with paper towels.
Add the chicken to the pan, in batches if necessary to avoid crowding the pan. Cook and turn the chicken until all sides are brown. Add 1/4 cup of Cognac or Armagnac, and bring it to a boil. Use a match or lighter to flambé the alcohol. Allow the alcohol to burn for one minute, and then extinguish any remaining flames by smothering them with a lid.
Season the chicken with freshly ground black pepper and salt. Place 1 bay leaf and 1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme into the pan, and surround the chicken with 20 peeled pearl onions. Cover the dish, and allow the ingredients to simmer for 10 minutes. Flip the chicken halfway through cooking.
Remove the cover, and sprinkle in 3 tablespoons of flour. Add enough chicken or beef stock to cover the chicken, about 2 cups. Add the bacon or lardons, 2 cups of red wine, 1 or 2 minced garlic cloves, and 1 tablespoon of homemade tomato paste. Cover and simmer the dish for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove individual pieces of chicken when their juices run clear when you pierce them with a knife.
When all the chicken is done and the onions are soft, return the chicken to the pan, and add 3/4 pound of fresh quartered mushrooms. Cook the ingredients for an additional four to five minutes before serving.