Braised Chicken Fit for Rainy Weather

Tender chicken cooked with apple cider to soothe your heart and tummy on a blustery, wet day.

When pelted left and right by rain, seek comfort with this dish, in which the only thing that gets soaked is the bread you’re sure to want to dunk into its brothy, fruity sauce.

“Braised Chicken with Apple Cider, Tarragon, and Cream” is from “Eating Local, the Cookbook Inspired by America’s Farmers” (Andrews McMeel) by Sur La Table in conjunction with Bay Area food writer Janet Fletcher.

The book, of which I received a review copy,  is filled with recipes that make the best use of each season’s bounty. It also includes profiles of 10 farmers across the country.

In this stew, a whole chicken, cut up into about 10 pieces, braises gently on the stovetop in chicken broth, shallots, tarragon and apple cider. I swapped out the cider, however, for Calvados, since I had a bottle of the apple brandy already open at home. Plus, in dreary weather like this, you need a little something something to get things going, don’t you think?

After the chicken is cooked through, the pieces are removed from the pot and a little heavy cream is poured in to thicken and enrich the sauce.

The apple cider gives the dish a subtle sweetness; the Calvados adds less of that, but gives a bit more depth. Feel free to add some carrots and turnips to the pot when the chicken is cooking to make the dish even more substantial.

And for gosh sakes, don’t skimp on the crusty bread to soak up everything on this wet and wild day.

Braised Chicken with Apple Cider, Tarragon, and Cream

(Serves 4)

1 whole chicken, 3 1/2 to 4 pounds, cut into 10 pieces (2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, 2 wings, 4 breast pieces)

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

3 large shallots, minced

3/4 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup apple cider (unfiltered apple juice) or Calvados (apple brandy)

1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley

Season chicken pieces all over with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. When the oil is smoking hot, add chicken, skin side down, working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding. Brown the chicken well on the skin side, then turn and cook on the flesh side until the flesh is no longer pink, about 10 minutes total. Transfer chicken to a platter.

When all the chicken has been browned, pour off the fat in the skillet. Return skillet to moderately low heat and add butter. When it melts, add shallots and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon and scraping up the browned bits stuck to the pan bottom. When the shallots are soft, after 2 to 3 minutes, add broth, cider or Calvados, and tarragon. Bring liquid to a simmer and return chicken to the pan, along with any juices that have accumulated on the platter. Baste chicken with some of the pan juices, then cover and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook just until juices run clear when the meat is pierced in the thickest part, 12 to 15 minutes for the breast pieces, about 5 minutes longer for the thighs, drumsticks, and wings. Remove the chicken pieces to a platter as they are done.

Add cream to the skillet, raise heat to high, and simmer sauce until reduced to the consistency of thick cream. Reduce heat to moderate, return chicken to the skillet, and turn it in the sauce to coat it and warm it through.

Transfer chicken pieces to a warmed serving platter and pour sauce over it. Garnish with the parsley. Serve immediately.

Adapted from “Eating Local, the Cookbook Inspired by America’s Farmers” by Sur La Table with Janet Fletcher

More Chicken Stew Recipes: Chicken in Riesling

More Chicken: Ad Hoc’s Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs with Olives, Lemon and Fennel

Another Recipe with Apples: Sally Schmitt’s Cranberry and Apple Kuchen with Hot Cream Sauce

And: Open-Faced Apple Galette with Quince Paste

And: Babette Friedman’s Apple Cake

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