Cider House Chicken
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
- 2 small, organic baby chickens, broken down into 4 legs and 4 breasts (or, instead of a whole chicken, buy already-cut, bone-in, skin-on breasts and thighs)
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 3 sprigs parsley
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons Calvados or other apple brandy, divided
- 1 cup hard cider, such as Woodchuck brand (if unavailable, mix 1 cup cloudy apple cider with 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar)
- 1 cup chicken stock
- Hot sauce, to taste
- A dash of nutmeg
- 3 Honeycrisp apples, sliced into 1/2 inch disks across the core
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- A handful of parsley, chopped
- 1 multi-grain baguette
Pre-heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over high heat with EVOO, about two turns of the pan. Once the oil starts to ripple, add in the chicken breasts and brown them all on each side, about 4-5 minutes. Remove and reserve on a paper towel-lined platter. Add a little more EVOO to the pot and repeat with the thighs, reserving them on the same platter.
Once all the chicken is browned, add the carrots and onions to the pot. Once the veggies start to get tender, add in the tomato paste and cook for 2-3 minutes.
As the tomato paste cooks, tie the herbs together into a neat little bundle with some butcher twine and toss it in the pot. Season the veggies with salt and freshly ground black pepper then add in the 1/2 cup calvados. Remove the pan from the heat and, using a lighter or match, ignite the brandy to burn off the alcohol.
Once the flame has gone out, place the pot back over medium-high heat and add in the hard cider. Cook and reduce the liquid by 1/2, then add in the chicken stock, hot sauce, and nutmeg. Remove the herb bundle and puree the mixture in a food processor or a blender.
Return the liquid back to the pot, and add the herb bundle back in along with the browned chicken pieces. Cook over medium to low heat, simmering everything for about 15-20 minutes.
While the chicken is cooking, melt the butter in a skillet over high heat and sauté the apples slices until lightly browned – don’t overcook them, they should still be crispy. Add in the remaining 2 tablespoons of Calvados, remove the pan from the heat and ignite the skillet like before. Let the alcohol cook out and reserve the apples for garnish for the creamy cider chicken.
Add the cream to the chicken and cook to warm through. Just before serving. add in a handful of roughly chopped parley. Serve with caramelized calvados apples on top and a chunk of multi-grain baguette alongside to mop up the sauce.