One of my favorite French recipes. this dish hails from Normandy, land of apples, cream, Calvados and the famous Bresse chickens. We may not have the latter but our apples are second to none!
This recipe comes from Alice Waters, the doyenne of California cuisine, owner of the famous Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkely, California.
1 (3 1⁄2-pound) chicken, cut into 8 bone-in pieces
5 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1⁄2 cup Calvados
1 cup apple cider
1 cup chicken stock
30 pearl onions
3 medium apples, peeled, cored and each cut into 8 wedges
1 cup crème fraîche (or heavy whipping cream)
1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter with the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken skin-side down and brown on all sides. Transfer to a plate.
2. Pour off most of the fat from the pan. Add the onions, carrots, thyme and bay leaf and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the Calvados, warm slightly, then stand back and ignite it. Once the flames die, add the cider, scraping up the brown bits. Bring to a boil and reduce by half. Add the stock and return the chicken to the pan. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Transfer the breast pieces to a bowl. Cook the legs and thighs for 10 more minutes and add to the bowl. Keep warm.
3. Meanwhile, soak the pearl onions in warm water before peeling. (I used frozen pearl onions and let defrost for a bit) Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Uncover, add 1 tablespoon butter and increase heat to medium-high. Place the apples in the center of the pan. Sear on each side for 10 to 15 minutes, until caramelized.
4. Strain the Calvados sauce and return it to the pan. Add the juices from the chicken. Whisk in the crème fraîche (or whipping cream) Simmer until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Season. Add the chicken pieces and warm through.
Adapted from “Chez Panisse Fruit,” by Alice Waters. Via The New York Times