Simple Pleasures

Rugby Grille’s Damian Yopek’s classic coq au vin is his kind of home cooking


Photograph by Joe Vaughn

Damian Yopek came back to his home state last year to take the chef de cuisine post at the Townsend Hotel’s Rugby Grille. The South Lyon native attended the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vt., then worked in Hawaii and Texas. He followed up with a stint at The Inn at Little Washington in Virginia with chef Patrick O’Connell, and at Adour at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, D.C., with Alain Ducasse. He was most recently executive chef of the Matchbox Food Group in D.C. Although he loves preparing complicated dishes at the Rugby Grille, he appreciates the classics. “This braised dish with mushrooms, onions, and white wine really just sums up with I like to eat when I’m at home — simple, delicious, filling … and makes the house smell real nice,” he says. Easily prepared in one pot, it can be served right out of the crock. —Molly Abraham

Coq Au Vin (serves 4-6)


  • ¼ cup bacon, diced small
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 chicken leg quarters (legs and thighs separated into 8 pieces)
  • Freshly ground black pepper and salt
  • 2 cups button mushrooms (or your favorite variety), quartered
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 1 ½ cups pearl onions, peeled 
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 bottle chardonnay 
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 5 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 to 6 sprigs fresh parsley


Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until a bit crisp. Remove bacon and set aside. Add a bit of olive oil to the bacon fat. Salt and pepper the chicken and brown them on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes per side, in small batches. Put the pieces aside. Add mushrooms to the pot, continuing on medium-high heat, and brown until deep golden brown. Add the shallot, pearl onions, celery, and carrot. Continue cooking until the shallots soften. Add the garlic and cook one minute. Add the flour and stir to coat vegetables. Pour in the wine. Bring to a simmer and reduce by a quarter, then add chicken broth, thyme, bay leaf, about 4 sprigs of the parsley, bacon, and chicken. Cover the pot and place in the oven for about 1 hour and 45 minutes or until the chicken is tender. Sprinkle remaining parsley over the top and serve with mashed or smashed potatoes.

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