1 tbsp (15 g) unsalted butter
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 oz (180 g) slab bacon, rind removed, cut in 1 x 3/4 x 3/4″ ( 2.5 x 2 x 2 cm) pieces
12 oz (375 g) small white onions or shallots, peeled
One 3 lb (1.5 kg) chicken, cut in six pieces
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp (45 ml) Calvados (apple brandy)
3/4 cup (375 ml) apple cider
1 lb (500 g) tart apples, peeled, cored and cut in sixths
5 fresh bay leaves
1 small bunch fresh thyme leaves
2 stems fresh rosemary (plus several sprigs for decoration)
1/2 cup (125 ml) crème fraîche or heavy, non ultra-pasteurized cream
For the apple garnish:
3 tbsp (45 g) unsalted butter
1 lb (500 g) apples, cored, peeled and cut into sixths
2 tsp brown sugar (optional)
1. Melt butter with oil in a large heavy skillet (with sides at least 3″ high) over medium-high heat. When hot, add bacon, stir, then add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until bacon and onions are golden on all sides, and bacon is not too crisp, about 4 min. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve. Drain all but 2 tbsp fat from pan and add chicken, stirring to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper and brown, turning frequently, until chicken is deep golden and partially cooked-about 15 min. Avoid crowding the pan-do two batches if necessary. Remove chicken and reserve with bacon and onions.
2. Add Calvados to pan and ignite with a long kitchen match to burn the alcohol off, standing back and averting your face. When flames have died out, add cider and stir, scraping up any caramelized juices. Return chicken, bacon and onions to pan, along with apples, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Gently stir all ingredients to coat with liquid. Add herbs, pushing them down among chicken pieces. Cover and cook until chicken is tender and cooked through, about 20 min, turning frequently.
3. While chicken cooks, make the apple garnish: Melt butter in a large, heavy-bottom skillet over medium heat. Add apple slices and toss to coat. Cover and cook until nearly cooked through, about 10 min. Remove cover and continue cooking until tender, another 5 to 10 min. Sprinkle with sugar and continue cooking, shaking pan, until slightly caramelized, about 4 min. Remove from heat and reserve.
4. When chicken is cooked, transfer it, with onions, bacon and the apples that cooked with it to a warmed serving platter and keep warm. The apples may have softened and fallen apart, which is fine as they will help to thicken the sauce. Discard herbs. Stir crème fraîche into cooking juices and cook just until hot and slightly thickened, about 5 min. Adjust seasoning and pour sauce over chicken. Garnish with the caramelized apples and fresh rosemary sprigs and serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6
Journalist and author Susan Herrmann Loomis has lived in France for 20 years and currently teaches cooking classes in Normandy and Paris. She has written nine books, including Cooking at Home on Rue Tatin (William Morrow, 2006). website
Originally published in the March 2009 issue of France Today