chicken dishes

Chicken with Apple Brandy Sauce (Poulet Vallée d’Auge)

It’s apple season, and I’m in heaven. Last weekend I was finally able to get out to the orchards to pick apples, but I spent the next three days on the road. The apples have been taunting me ever since.

But  right now it’s raining, I have nowhere to be, and this recipe was calling to me from my to-do list.

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Poulet Vallée d’Auge is a traditional French recipe from the Normandy region (I say that as if I have any idea what that actually means…) combining apples and Calvados, or apple brandy, with chicken and mushrooms. I *love* apples in savory dishes, and this one did not disappoint.

You can pull it off on a weeknight — plan for about 90 minutes of cooking time — but I’d lean toward a crisp fall weekend. Serve with potatoes or rice (or skip the starch altogether, like I did), and green beans.

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Poulet Vallée d’Auge

(Chicken and Apples in Brandy Cream Sauce)

Adapted from Bon Appetit
Serves 4

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 small to medium firm-tart apples, peeled, cored, quartered
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 chicken (3 1/2-4 lbs), quartered
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small leek, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise ¼” thick
2 small or 1 large shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup Calvados (or other apple brandy)
2/3 cup apple cider
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 pound crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, trimmed, halved
1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
1 large egg yolk

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add apples and cook, turning occasionally, until golden in spots, 10–12 minutes. Transfer apples to a plate and set aside.

Increase heat to medium-high and add oil to pot. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Working in batches, cook chicken until browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to another plate; set aside.

Add leek and shallots to pot; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Remove pot from heat, add Calvados, and ignite with a long match or lighter. After flames die down, return pot to heat and add cider. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.

Return reserved chicken to pot and add thyme, bay leaf, and broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover pot, and simmer, adding reserved apples back to pot halfway through, until chicken is cooked through, 20–25 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, tossing occasionally, until browned and softened, 6–8 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Transfer mushrooms to a plate.

Whisk crème fraîche and egg yolk in a small bowl. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken and apples to a baking sheet and remove pot from heat. Whisk crème fraîche mixture into cooking liquid in pot. Gently mix in chicken, apples, and mushrooms.

Chicken and Peaches Platter

Rotisserie chicken is a great gift to a busy cook (or non-cook). It is flavorful, fall-off-the-bone tender, and a versatile protein source. The best part? It is very economical: at my neighborhood grocery store, a chicken goes for $7.50 during the week and just $5 on Sundays. Roasting thr chicken yourself isn’t pricey, but I don’t think I can beat that deal.

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Whether from-scratch or rotisserie, I love having a chicken on Sundays and portioning out several lunches that won’t leave me bored or headed for takeout. I picked up a few fresh local peaches and put together a killer salad.

Rotisserie meet can sometimes feel a little greasy to me (compared to a chicken I’ve roasted myself). I discard the skin and am a little more vigilant on trimming excess fat and skimp a little more on the dressing; the meat is so moist you won’t miss it.

Chicken and Peaches Platter
Serves 6

2-3 heads romaine lettuce, cut crosswise into 1-inch strips (you want at least 12 cups)
1 rotisserie chicken (about 2-2 1/2 lbs), skin discarded, meat removed from bones and chopped in large pieces
3 peaches, sliced (peeled if desired)
6 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese 1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped
1/4 cup white wine vinegar (or try sherry, champagne, raspberry or your favorite vinegar)
1/4 cup (or less) extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Arrange the lettuce, chicken, peaches, cheese, and almonds on a platter. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper. Drizzle over the salad when ready to serve.