Fancied an alternative to Sunday roast. Chicken in cider should do it!

30 Nov

  Years ago, I was fortunate enough to accompany the French school trips to Normandy, run by my husband’s school.  I remember these with fondness, the children were so excited, for most it was their first trip abroad without their parents and, without exception, they were so good!  They were even complimented on one occasion, on the ferry over to Caen, by a lovely old lady who said they were angels.  I had to agree!

During these trips we had some fantastic French cuisine, all rustic and easy to prepare, to cater for the large numbers.  One meal I remember well was when we had chicken cooked in cider and served with apples.  I know it sounds strange but please don’t be put off, it was absolutely delicious!  I have made a similar recipe many times using pork chops but thought I would have a go at one with chicken.  I have found a host of similar recipes, so I have used these as a base and adapted it to suit our taste.  Before we get to the recipe, here is a bit of information about Normandy that many of you will know and, hopefully, none of us will forget!

Normandy is on the north coast of France, with beaches on the English Channel, and played an important part in the World War II.  The Germans had marched through Europe, occupying the countries in its path, including France, and the English Channel was the only thing stopping them from invading England.  In 1944, June 6th, Operation Overlord took place, where Allied troops, including armies from the United Kingdom, Canada and USA, landed on the Normandy beaches, and worked with the French Resistance to fight the Germans and regain control of France.  Those who have seen ‘Saving Private Ryan’ will have a good idea how difficult this mission was.  I remember on one school trip we visited the American War Cemetery.  There was an old gentleman there who was part of the D Day Landings.  His family asked him to tell them what had happened and for a few painful minutes the man could not speak, he was so overcome with grief.  He then recounted how he had watched his brother die and some of his friends, including the best man at his wedding.  By the time he had finished he was sobbing, as were all of us that were listening.  I don’t think those children will ever forget, I know I won’t.

On a lighter side, Normandy is famous for apples and the production of cider and Calvados, an apple brandy.  They use these in many of their recipes.  So, onto the recipe for today.  I’ve included a slide show at the end to show the various steps.  I served ours with boiled new potatoes and cabbage.  It really was lovely.  Hope you give it a try.

Chicken in cider with apples

  • 2 oz unsalted butter
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 8 shallots
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 300ml (1/2 pint) chicken stock
  • 300 ml (1/2 pint) dry cider (if using a 440ml can this will leave a glass of cider in the can for the cook!)
  • 2 apples, cored and cut into wedges
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 5 tbsp full fat Greek yogurt (low fat will curdle)
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
  1. Heat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5.
  2. Heat half the butter in a large ovenproof casserole over a high heat and fry the chicken for 5 minutes on each side or until the thighs are brown all over.  Keep turning to make sure they don’t burn.  Season well then add the shallots and celery.  Cook for a few minutes and add the stock and cider, bring to the boil, cover and cook in oven for about 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.
  3. Meanwhile, melt the rest of the butter in a small pan and fry the apples for about a minute on each side or until lightly browned.  Remove and reserve.
  4. Take the casserole out of the oven and place over a medium heat on the hob.  Mix the cornflour with the yogurt and add to the casserole, stirring, followed by the tarragon, mustard and apples.  Heat through for a couple of minutes then serve.

NB  You can freeze this when cooled so its useful for getting ahead for a dinner party.

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