Cranberry Sauce & Cider Chicken Braise

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From Eating the Rind’s blog, a recipe for cider-braised chicken with a delightful-sounding cranberry sauce.  Also a way to clear your liquor cabinet of some remnants!

Port Cranberry Sauce (Adapted from Emeril’s Cranberry Sauce)

Combine 12 oz. bag cranberries, 1/4 c. port, 1/2 c. sugar, zest of one orange, and one half of a cinnamon stick in saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until cranberries have split and sauce takes on a viscous consistency.

Cider Braised Chicken (serves 4)

3.5 lbs. chicken thighs, preferably with skin intact
few tbsp. flour
3 cloves crushed garlic
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
1-2 bay leaves
1 bottle dry apple cider, preferably Farnum Hill (could substitute with dry, white wine)
1/4 c. cognac
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil
carrots, parsnips, celery root, turnip, or any combination

Add crushed garlic and a few tablespoons of olive oil to a braising pan over medium-high heat.  Remove garlic and set aside when you begin to smell it.  While garlic oil is heating up, combine a few tablespoons of flour with salt and pepper and lightly dredge chicken thighs (I would skip this step if using meat with skin intact).  Once the garlic is removed, add the chicken to the infused olive oil and sear on each side for a few minutes until golden brown.  Remove chicken and set aside.

Add sliced onions to hot pan with salt and pepper, and saute about 10 minutes until soft and lightly golden.   Return chicken and any accumulated juices, root vegetables, garlic, cider, cognac, and bay leaves to pan.  The liquid should just cover the meat, but it is fine for the veggies not to be completely submerged.  Increase heat, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer with lid for about 20 minutes.  Remove lid and continue simmering for another 5 minutes, adjust seasoning, and serve hot along with port cranberry sauce.

Brilliant over mashed potatoes or polenta.

Another point worth mentioning is my use of cider.  Farnum Hill Ciders, based in Lebanon, NH are traditional, European-style hard apple ciders that are known for their crisp dryness and aromatic fruit flavors.  Besides being wonderfully versatile with foods, they are also fabulous in cooking.  I used an entire bottle of Extra Dry Still, perfect with its sharp, clean fruit and bone dryness.

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