Autumn is upon us, although here in Tucson it means we're still dealing with temperatures in the 90's but we can't let that stop us from cooking up something seasonal.
Inspired by Sunny Anderson's recipe on Foodnetwork, never mind by the pork and cider stew we had a year ago, this is a much better use of the treasured hard cider nestled amongst the beer in our refrigerator than the brined pork turned out to be - at least in my opinion. Of course, I don't think there's a bad way to cook chicken anyway but braising it's darn near the best and adding apple cider...well, shut the front door! In fact, deadbolt it while you're there because the aroma is so amazing you'll have to keep the neighbors out somehow!
I seasoned and floured some skinless boneless chicken thighs and browned them till golden, after which the usual onions and garlic hit the pot for added flavor. With the golden brown thighs removed, it's a perfect opportunity to scrape up all the flavor bits on the bottom of the pot too. Followed by wedges of Granny Smith apples, fresh thyme, bay leaf and a touch of rosemary, the chicken was re-introduced and nestled in a mixture of hard cider and chicken stock. Simmered until tender, I thickened the gravy slightly with a slurry of flour mixed with a jigger or two of Apple Jack Brandy for an added je ne sais quoi.
Piled into a nature made bowl of the finest roasted Kabocha squash along with a mix of long grain and wild rice courtesy of Rice a Roni, (yup, JBug's not adverse to using convenience foods ya' know) dinner was indeed a treat and relatively healthy too.
Naturally a pile of creamy mashed potatoes or lovely flakey biscuits, or even wild rice waffles or fritters would be a fabulous way to sop up all that incredible gravy, but we'll have to go there again so we can tell you all about it another day.
Apple Cider Chicken (from JBug’s Kitchen inspired by Sunny Anderson, Foodnetwork.com)
3 tablespoons canola oil
2.5 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs (approx. 9)
Salt and coarse ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
8 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 – 12 ounce bottle hard cider (I used Woodchuck)
1 cup low sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup Apple Jack brandy (or water)
1-1/2 tablespoons flour (I used Wondra instant blending flour)
Heat oil over medium high in a heavy pot with a tight fitting lid. Season chicken generously with salt and pepper then coat in flour, shaking off the excess. Brown in batches without crowding the pan until chicken is golden on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside.
Add onion, garlic, apples, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf to the pan and cook until onion is softened, stirring up browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Return chicken to the pot along with any accumulated juices. Add cider and chicken stock. Heat to a boil, then lower heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove cover and cook for additional 15 minutes to reduce liquid. Make a slurry from the brandy and flour and thicken gravy to desired consistency. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as required. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes (or biscuits) to soak up all that good gravy. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
A year ago - Ina's Plum Cake Tatin
Two year's ago - Sole Almondine