Inspired by the classic chicken Normandy, this slightly sweet, savoury baby chicken full of fall-flavours is equally perfect for a weeknight dinner or on a more festive occasion.
Normandy in northern France is known for locations like the stunning Mount-Saint-Michel, the city of Rouen with many historic cathedrals, or the region’s varied rugged coastline.
Culinary wise, Normandy is known for excellent cheeses, seafood – and apple cider. Indeed, it’s one of the largest areas for apple production globally, of which the many apple orchards dotting the area are testimony for.
And just like France is known as leading wine production country in terms of quality if not in quantity (that crown goes to Italy, but France still comes a strong second), Normandy is one of the leading producers of apple cider globally.
So if you love France and are planning a trip sometime in the future, mark Normandy down for cider tasting, ideally following the region’s Cider Route. It will not only introduce you to the world of apple cider, dropping in and out of different breweries. Along the roughly 40 kilometres long route, you will also find many charming historic towns and beautiful scenery.
In case you will not be able to make that trip to Normandy any time soon, the good news is that craft apple cider has become a hot topic around the world. Independent small cideries focusing on quality and local terroir – just like in wine production – are currently popping up everywhere, joining those already around for some time.
Excellent, terroir driven craft ciders are now made in France, Spain, the UK, Germany, the US, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and likely a lot more countries not mentioned here. Thus, seek out places closer to you – there’s a good chance you will be able to find some craft ciders available in your region to have a try.
Personally, I love to open a bottle of apple cider every now and then, diversifying away from wine a bit. Especially considering cider pairs wonderfully to a wide range of food. So cider is not only a great drink for an aperitive, but indeed fantastic to be paired to a full menu, just like wine.
And just like wine, cider is not only there to be enjoyed as a drink. It is a fantastic ingredient for cooking as well. From savoury to sweet, cider can be used to great effect in many dishes.
Poulet a la Normande or chicken Normandy is a classic fall dish that you can find all over France. It origins in Normandy and consists of whole chicken legs braised in apple cider and brandy, cooked with onions, garlic and herbs and is finished with cream, Dijon mustard and fried apples.
Inspired by the classic recipe, I recently made this baby chicken braised in apple cider.
Slightly sweet, savoury, and full of fall-flavours, this recipe is so so easy to make, yet it’s a fantastic dish for a weeknight dinner or served on a more festive occasion.
Recipe: Baby Chicken braised in Apple Cider
4 baby chicken
500 ml chicken stock
500 ml cider
3 tablespoons butter
3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced into large pieces
100 g chestnuts, pre-cooked
2 onions, finely chopped
8 sage leaves
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Heat a large tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan. Brush the chicken with the butter, then season with salt and pepper.
In a large ovenproof pot, heat half a tablespoon of butter and fry the onions until translucent.
Add baby chicken, chicken stock, cider, herbs and cinnamon stick to the pot and transfer to the oven for 45 minutes.
Heat the remaining butter in a saucepan, add the apple slices, top with sugar, and let caramelize for 3-4 minutes.
Add caramelized apples and chestnuts to the chicken halfway through the cooking process.
Serve chicken with mashed potatoes.