This is a take on a classic braised chicken dish from Normandy, France which is cooked in local cider and aromatics. It takes very little time to cook, and if you serve it with some simple veggie dishes, its a great weekday meal. But the flavors scream, "weekend!"
Poulet à la Normande
1 T + 1 1/2 t butter
1 T +1 1/2 t olive oil
70 g roughly chopped carrots
70 g roughly chopped celery stalks 70 g roughly chopped onions
10 g smashed garlic
150 g cider
4 sticks fresh thyme
520 g whole small chicken (like a Croquelet de Loire)
75 g roughly cut & peeled green apple (about half)
100-150 ml heavy cream (depending on the texture of the sauce)
Make sure to take your chicken out of the fridge about 30-60 minutes before cooking. It helps keep the meat tender.
In a small dutch oven, on medium to medium-high heat, melt 1 T butter and 1 T oil. Once hot, add the carrot, celery and onion. Season with s&p. Cook this for about 5 minutes stirring regularly. The veggies should have some color forming and begin to get soft. Add the smashed whole garlic cloves and the apples. Cook for another 3-5 minutes stirring regularly. Carefully remove onto a plate on the side. Add the remaining butter & oil and sear as much of the chicken as you can, rolling it every few minutes. Once you roll it season that side with s&p. Getting color on both the veggies and the chicken makes for a much better flavored dish, but try not to burn anything. Once the chicken is browned, add the veggies back into the pan with the thyme and turn up the heat to high. Then, carefully add your cider and lower the heat to medium and let it bubble away for a few minutes. I spin the chicken in circles and scrape the bottom of the pot to help get the bits off of the bottom of the pan where the flavor is. Cover with the lid and cook until done (165 F or 74 C, about 15-20 minutes). To check, stick a thermometer in the thigh meat to get a good read.
This dish would be typically finished by adding a little bit of cream to the pot and serving it with side dishes like a salad, any style potatoes and seasonal veggies. The sauce would be a creamier sort of "jus." But, for a more luxurious, thicker sauce, I remove the chicken to a plate and purée the veggies together with the juices and cream. It makes for a very cool addition to the whole meal. If you prefer the jus, then only add a splash or two of the cream (maybe 2 T or so). If not, blend away. Serve it with whatever you fancy as a side dish. But, please be French about it, and make at least 2 or 3 sides! That's my only request...
N.B. you can of course make this dish with a larger chicken and cut the pieces apart to fit in the braising pan (to keep a shorter cooking time), but you may need to up the amount of both veggies and cider before braising.