...or Back In The Swing of Things Chicken. I am trying so hard to get back to normal after our extended christmas holidays, back to quick weekday meals, back to the treadmill of after-school sports classes and back to the routine of shopping, cooking and eating after weeks snowed in and living on lentils.
We are still in the depths of winter and rich, warming, satisfying, comfort food is all I want to eat despite all my new year healthy-eating resolutions. Sometimes I think the new year should come in March when the weather is lightening up, the days are getting longer and resolutions seem so much more achievable. I do love winter though, all this rain, sleet and snow allows us to enjoy the central heating of a soothing casserole without too much guilt.
I first ate a version of this in Normandy in France, all the specialities of that region feature: thick creme fraiche, local cider, crisp apples and free-range chicken. I have more recently found it in pubs in Scotland and restaurants in Devon -a recipe created wherever the apples are crunchy and the cream is fresh.
Baked Chicken with Cider and Apples
2 tbsp olive oil
1 chicken, jointed (or 6-8 portions of chicken)
2 onions, cut into eighths
4 apples, peeled and sliced into wedges
300ml dry cider
100ml cider vinegar
1tbsp fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
100ml creme fraiche
Preheat the oven to 180C. Heat the butter and oil in an flame-proof casserole, then saute the chicken portions till golden brown all over. Transfer the chicken to a plate then add the onions and apples to the pan and saute for a few minutes until they begin to colour. Return the chicken to the pan and add the cider, cider vinegar, bay leaf and thyme and heat till simmering. Place the casserole in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the chicken, apples and onions and reduce the liquid by simmering gently to about half its volume. Stir in the creme fraiche then return the meat, apples and onions to the sauce and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Serve with new potatoes or rice.