In college, I devoured young women's magazines, and somewhere along the way clipped an extensive article about Normandy. The accompanying photos of lace curtained windows, baskets of apples and bottles of Calvados formed my ideas of what a French kitchen should be, and I saved them for years.
I also saved a handful of recipes from the same feature article. Tonight, for the first time, I made a chicken recipe I've saved for more than 20 years. This is the first time I've prepared it.
It seemed the perfect time for apples and chicken: A sunny but coolish Sunday with heavy overtones of autumn all around, from the honking of geese overhead to the red-tinged leaves on the many maples in our neighborhood.
Chicken with Cider
- 1 3-to-4-pound chicken, cut up
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 Tablespoon cooking oil
- 2 dashes fleur de sel
- dash freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup Calvados or brandy
- 1 3/4 cup apple cider
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon parsley
Coat chicken with flour and brown in large skillet containing oil and butter. Place skin side down, and turn as needed to brown both sides. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour in Calvados and ignite, using a long match. Allow the liquid to burn until the flame extinguishes itself. Add cider and herbs. Bring to a simmer. Cover and allow to simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes.
Check breasts with a meat thermometer, remove if hot enough. Legs and wings will need to cook longer. Remove the chicken from the skillet, add a bit of flour to the remaining sauce and use a whisk. Pour over the chicken.
The chicken was moist and tender. The sauce had enough apple flavor to hold my interest. But I think I will add onions and shallots to the skillet next time. The flavor was way too subtle.
I served this with green beans amandine and herbed potatoes. Wine Pairing: A white merlot.