If there's a dinner that screams "It's fall, y'all!", it's this recipe for Apple Cider Braised Chicken! You can almost feel the snuggliest sweater and scarf wrapping around you when you sit down to eat this delicious dinner! It's perfect after an afternoon walk in the woods.
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Let's chat about the chicken.
Most of us have preferences in regards to white or dark meat, right? But even my white-meat-loving husband said, "You have to make this often ... and you have to make it with chicken thighs!" So I feel insist that you not deter from that instruction!
A trick to crispier skin is to put the chicken thighs on paper towels and put them in the refrigerator for a while uncovered. If you plan enough in advance, leave them overnight. Season them with salt and pepper just before putting them in the skillet.
Building the braise starts with bacon!
Of course, it does! Cut the slices into lardons and cook them over medium heat. This allows the fat to render gently without too much browning. If there's too much fat, you can pour it off.
Using the bacon fat, cook the celery, shallots, garlic, and fresh thyme.
When the celery, shallots, and garlic are softened, hit the pan with apple brandy to deglaze and pick up any browned bits on the surface of the pan. Then sprinkle some flour over them and stir to coat. (I, of course, use a gluten free flour blend.) Finally, slowly pour the apple cider in, stirring constantly, and mix well with the floured aromatics.
What kind of cider to use
This definitely calls for a hard cider. Don't be tempted to use a sweet one that is better used to heat and add spices to. The Strongbow is dry which is exactly what you want for this ... nothing sweet! However, use your favorite dry cider if you prefer.
Snuggle the chicken pieces back in to liquid. Be careful to keep the skin above the liquid so that it is exposed to the heat and stays crispy.
When the chicken is almost done, cut apples into wedges and saute them in some reserved chicken or bacon fat, or in butter. The sweeter the apple, the more likely they'll brown quickly so keep an eye on the skillet!
When the chicken is done, the skin is so brown and the gravy has deepened in color ... and it makes me swoon!
The finishing touch
Aside from the crispy skin on the chicken, this last step is possibly the most delectable ... creme fraiche mixed with Dijon mustard. Temper it with some of the hot braising liquid, then stir it into the gravy in the skillet to warm it.
How to serve
Apple Cider Braised Chicken has all the elements of a dish that could have originated in the north of France with the cider, shallots, and finishing touches of creme fraiche and mustard. I serve it with rice, green peas, and those gorgeous sauteed apples.
Other recipes you might like:
Apple Cider Braised Chicken
- 2 pounds chicken thighs 4 thighs are about 2 pounds
- salt & pepper for seasoning
- 4 shallots diced (about 4 Tablespoons)
- 1 rib celery diced
- 4-5 sprigs thyme
- 2 cloves garlic chopped small
- 4 ounces bacon (about 6 slices) chopped
- 2 Tablespoons apple brandy
- 2 Tablespoons flour can use 1:1 gluten-free flour blend
- ⅓ cup chicken stock
- 1½ cups hard dry apple cider, like Strongbow This is one bottle.
- ½ cup creme fraiche
- 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 apples cut into wedges
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Pat the chicken thighs dry with a paper towel, then season with salt and pepper.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown the chicken thighs until golden, skin side first. Remove to a platter and set aside.
- If there's too much fat left, you can discard some. Fry the bacon pieces until the fat is rendered, then remove the bacon to the same platter as the chicken.
- Add the shallots, celery, and thyme to the skillet and cook over low heat until soft but not brown, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds longer.
- Add the apple brandy and stir while scraping the bottom of the pan. Cook until the alcohol burns off. Sprinkle the flour over and stir until it has become a paste, then add the chicken stock. Stir until it becomes a thick gravy then pour in the apple cider and stir till it is combined.
- Return the chicken and bacon to the pan, add 2-3 sprigs of thyme and bring to a boil. Put the skillet into the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour.
- About 15 minutes before the chicken is done, fry the apple wedges. Use some of the reserved chicken fat or butter.
- Take the chicken out of the oven and let it rest while you mix the creme fraiche and Dijon mustard. Remove the chicken pieces to a platter. Add 4-5 Tablespoons of the sauce to the creme fraiche to temper it, then whisk the creme fraiche mixture into the rest of the sauce.
- Serve the chicken with the sauce, rice, cooked apples, and buttered peas.