Chicken with Apples
Just in time to celebrate apple-season, Rachael’s easy and elegant take on a classic French dish from Normandy – Poulet Vallee d’Auge – uses Calvados, an apple-based spirit.
- 3 apples, Braeburn or Jonagold
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
- 4-6 pieces (1 piece of chicken per serving) bone-in, skin-on chicken breast and dark meat quarters (leg and thigh attached)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
- 3/4 pound crimini or white mushrooms, sliced
- 4 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons thyme, chopped
- 1 large fresh bay leaf
- 1/2 cup Calvados or brandy
- 1/2 cup cloudy apple cider
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 3/4 cup crème fraiche or heavy cream
Peel and core the apples and cut each into eight wedges. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat. When the butter stops foaming, add the apples and season with a little nutmeg. Lightly brown for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove from the heat and reserve.
Heat the oil, a turn of the pan, in heavy pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to ripple, season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the pan. Cook the chicken in two batches to avoid overcrowding the pan if you are making six portions. Brown the chicken on both sides and remove to a plate. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to the drippings; when the foam subsides, add the sliced mushrooms and lightly brown for 6-7 minutes. Add the shallots, thyme, bay, salt and pepper and stir for a few minutes more. Add the chicken back to the pan; pour the Calvados over the chicken and ignite with a long-reach lighter. When the flame dies down, add the cider and stock and cover the pan. Simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Remove the white meat pieces; continue to simmer the dark meat for 12-15 minutes more. Arrange the chicken on a platter and stir the crème fraiche or cream into the sauce.
Gently combine the apples with the sauce and pour over top of the chicken to serve. Serve with warm bread and steamed green beans alongside.
Tip: A long-reach lighter is best for flambé. Remove the pan from stove to ignite, then return it to the heat.