Braised in apple cider and finished in a cream sauce.
A delicious dish for your family or company.
SERVES 4 – 6
2 LBS CHICKEN THIGHS – skin on or skinless
1 CELERY RIB – diced
4-5 SHALLOTS – diced
12 TBS OLIVE OIL
SALT and PEPPER – to taste
3 GARLIC CLOVES – minced
A FEW THYME SPRIGS
5-6 STRIPS OF THICK BACON – chopped
2 TBS BRANDY or COGNAC
2-3 TBS FLOUR – (I use Wondra for this)
1/3 CUP CHICKEN STOCK
1 ½ CUPS APPLE CIDER
½ CUP HEAVY or DOUBLE CREAM
2 APPLES – peeled, cored, cut in thick slices
PREHEAT OVEN TO 350º
Rinse the chicken thighs, pat dry and rub well with salt and pepper and maybe a bit of garlic powder!
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-duty skillet and brown the thighs over medium-high heat until a nice golden. Set aside on a separate dish to keep warm.
Wipe the skillet of some but leave a slight film. Add the bacon and cook until the fat is rendered but do not let the bacon crisp. When cooked remove the bacon from the pan and add to the dish with the chicken. In the same skillet, add the shallots, celery, thyme sprigs and cook slowly over low heat just until all are soft – 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional 30-45 seconds, constantly stirring.
While the pan is hot, add the brandy or cognac and stir while scraping the bottom of the skillet with a spatula, releasing all the little bits that are stuck on the bottom, and continue cooking until the aroma of the brandy is gone.
Now add the flour to the skillet and stir until it is well combined with the fat. (I usually use Wondra flour to do this as it will not lump.) Stir until the mixture thickens. Slowly add the chicken stock and stir until the mixture becomes a thickened gravy. Pour in the apple cider and stir well to combine all while bringing to a slow boil.
Return the chicken and bacon to the skillet or put in a casserole dish suitable for the oven. Cover and put in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, then uncover and cook for 20-30 minutes longer.
While the chicken is in the oven, fry the thick apple slices in a little butter or some leftover bacon grease. Just crisp each side without letting them burn and set aside.
Remove the skillet from the oven, stir in the heavy cream and return to the oven and continue to cook, uncovered for 15- 20 minutes more.
Remove from the oven, stir in the cooked apple slices and serve.
NOTE: Mashed potatoes or rice are great accompaniments to this dish along with a simple salad.