This is the time for comforting winter casseroles and hunkering down in front of a cosy fire. This recipe featuring apples and apple cider brings a refreshing tarty apple taste to the richness of some of those beef ones we have been making, tasty in the extreme, so get down and try it. We used Loxtonia Apple cider from those clever people in Ceres and drank some while we were doing it, of course! Ever so refreshing. Would love to follow it with some Calvados —but alas! Do I have to say more??

 

 Cider Braised Chicken Winter Casserole

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 bone-in, skin-on free range chicken thighs

2 fennel bulbs, sliced

4 shallots, sliced

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

A large handful / bunch fresh sage leaves or tbsp. dry

2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

340ml Apple Cider

2 green apples, sliced

125ml fresh cream

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Olive oil

 

Method

 

Preheat oven to 180˚C.

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large Dutch oven, buffet casserole or cast iron skillet.

Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towel and season with salt.

Sear the chicken thighs skin-side down, until the skin is golden brown.

Flip and cook until lightly browned on the underside.

Set chicken pieces aside on a tray.

Add the sliced fennel to the pan with the residual chicken fat and cook until lightly golden on the edges. Remove from the pan and set aside next to the chicken.

If you need to – add a fresh drizzle of olive oil to the pan.

Add the sliced shallots and sage leaves. Season. Cook until the shallots soften and begin to take on some colour. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.

Add the apple cider vinegar, mustard and Apple Cider.

Stir everything together and bring to a simmer.

Add the fennel and the chicken back into the pan and nestle it in the sauce.

Dot the apples around the dish.

Transfer to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the chicken thighs are cooked through.

 

When done, bring the braise to a gentle simmer on the stove top. Add the cream.

Stir until the sauce has reduced slightly

Serve with a good crusty bread for mopping up the sauce and a green side salad.