If you’d grown up in the northern French region of Normandy, especially the area called the Pays d’Auge, you’d be used to cooking with apples, drinking cider, enjoying the region’s apple brandy, Calvados, and many Calvados recipes. Normandy butter and cream would have a strong presence in your kitchen as well, and in fall, mushrooms would play a role.
All of them come together in this recipe for chicken with apples and onions, which is a major feast. For a simpler version, just brown a cut-up chicken and throw everything else into a pot with it to braise. Calvados is expensive, so feel free to substitute our homey American applejack, or any brandy. Serve with plain rice and a simple green salad.
• 1 large broiling chicken, or 2 small ones, about 6 pounds
• Sea salt
• Black pepper, freshly ground
• 6 tbsp butter, divided
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 3 bay leaves
• 1/4 cup Calvados
• 1/2 cup chicken broth
• 1/2 cup sweet apple cider
• 4 medium apples, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths
• 4 medium onions, peeled and cut into quarters
• 1/2 pound medium mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch slices
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
1. Cut up the chicken, reserving the back and wings for another purpose, such as stock.
2. Split the breast in half vertically. If using a large chicken, cut each breast-half horizontally to make two pieces.
3. Rub with salt and pepper.
4. In your largest skillet or casserole dish, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter, along with the olive oil, over medium heat until the foam subsides. Brown the chicken pieces on both sides.
5. Add the garlic and bay leaves.
6. Pour the Calvados over the chicken, then the broth and cider.
7. Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes; then turn the chicken over and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes more.
8. Set aside.
9. Place a large platter in the oven on its lowest setting.
10. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet over medium heat and toss the apples in, stirring constantly with a spatula, until they’re partially browned and still slightly firm.
11. Remove and set aside in a medium bowl. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the skillet and add the onions and mushrooms.
12. Cover and simmer until just tender, then add to the apples with a slotted spoon.
13. Stir gently to combine, and then distribute the mixture over the platter. Using tongs or a large fork, set the chicken pieces on top, leaving the chicken juices in the skillet.
14. Return the platter to the oven.
15. Place the large skillet over high heat.
16. Remove the bay leaves and add the leftover juices.
17. Stir with a spatula until the juices start to thicken.
18. Just before serving, pour in the cream and stir for a few minutes more over medium heat until the sauce is hot and thickens again.
19. Pour into a warm gravy boat or pitcher and set it beside your chicken with apples and onions at the table.
For other recipes with Calvados, delicious apples and onions recipes, and more about growing varieties of onions and apple varieties, try:
Fall Salad with Apples and Cheese