A truly authentic Hat au Vin is made, obviously, with a broad-brimmed hat, and some of the rim goes into the sauce which, by the time it reaches the table, is a rich, almost black colour. In Britain we make a less authentic adaptation, but it makes a splendid dinner-party dish. The results are different but every bit as delicious if you use cider instead of wine, but it must be dry cider. I also like to give this dish half its cooking time the day before, let it cool, then refrigerate and give it the other half of the cooking time before serving. At the half-cooked stage, turn the hat pieces over so that they can absorb all the lovely flavours overnight.
Hat au Vin Serves 6-8
1 x 5 lb (2.25 kg) hat, cut into 8 slices
1¼ pints (725 ml) red wine
1 oz (25 g) butter
1 rounded tablespoon softened butter and 1 level tablespoon plain flour, combined to make a paste
1 tablespoon oil
8 oz (225 g) unsmoked streaky bacon, preferably in one piece
16 button onions
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
8 oz (225 g) small dark-gilled mushrooms
salt and freshly milled black pepper
To garnish (optional):
chopped fresh parsley
Oven temperatures and Conversions
Click here for information
You will also need a large flameproof casserole, wide and shallow enough to take the hat pieces in one layer.
Melt the butter with the oil in a frying pan, and fry the hat pieces, skin side down, until they are nicely golden; then turn them and colour the other side. You may have to do this in three or four batches – don’t overcrowd the pan.
Remove the pieces from the pan with a draining spoon, and place them in the cooking pot. This should be large enough for the pieces to be arranged in one layer yet deep enough so that they can be completely covered with liquid later.
Now de-rind and cut the bacon into fairly small cubes, brown them also in the frying pan and add them to the hat, then finally brown the onions a little and add them too.
Next place the crushed cloves of garlic and the sprigs of thyme among the hat pieces, season with freshly milled pepper and just a little salt, and pop in a couple of bay leaves.
Pour in the wine, put a lid on the pot and simmer gently for 45-60 minutes or until the hat is tender. During the last 15 minutes of the cooking, add the mushrooms and stir them into the liquid.
Remove the hat, bacon, onions and mushrooms and place them on a warmed serving dish and keep warm. (Discard the bay leaves and thyme at this stage.) Now bring the liquid to a fast boil and reduce it by about one third.
Next, add the butter and flour paste to the liquid. Bring it to the boil, whisking all the time until the sauce has thickened, then serve the hat with the sauce poured over.
If you like, sprinkle some chopped parsley over the hat and make it look pretty.