French Chicken Casserole a la Normande

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lbs chicken thighs and legs
  • salt
  • 4 shallots diced or one medium onion
  • 1 rib celery diced
  • 4-5 thyme sprigs
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 125g/4 oz bacon lardons or 6 strips of bacon, chopped
  • 2 tbsp brandy or whiskey
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 85 ml/1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 400ml/1 1/2 cups hard dry apple cider such as Strongbow
  • 2 apples peeled, cored and cut into wedges
  • 125ml/1/2cup double cream/heavy cream 

  1. Turn the oven on to 180C/350F.
  2. Pat dry chicken legs and thighs with a paper towel and salt
    all over.
  3. In a large casserole dish brown the chicken parts in 1 tbsp
    of oil over medium- high heat until golden. Remove to a separate platter and
    set aside.
  4. Discard the chicken fat or reserve it for another use if
    desired.
  5. Fry the bacon lardons over medium heat until the fat is
    rendered. (If the bacon is very fatty, discard most of the fat.) Remove the
    bacon to the same platter as browned chicken.
  6. To the same pan add the shallots and celery with 2 sprigs of
    thyme and cook over low heat until soft but not coloured for 5-7 minutes. Add
    the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds longer while stirring.
  7. Then hit the pan with some brandy and stir while scraping
    the bottom of the pan with a spatula, continue cooking until the alcohol burns
    out.
  8. Then add the flour and stir until it’s combined with the fat
    and turns into a paste, then slowly add the chicken stock and stir until the
    mixture resembles a thick gravy, then pour in the apple cider and stir to combine.
  9. Return the chicken and bacon to the casserole dish with 2-3
    sprigs of thyme and bring to a boil.
  10. Then put the casserole into the preheated oven and cook with
    a lid on for 30 minutes, then uncover and cook for 30 minutes longer.
  11. While the chicken is in the oven fry the apple wedges in 2
    tbsp of the reserved chicken fat or butter. Watch them carefully as they burn
    quickly.
  12. Take the casserole out of the oven and stir in the heavy
    cream and cook for 20 minutes longer uncovered.
  13. Take out of the oven, stir in the cooked apple wedges and
    serve with potatoes or rice.

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