Cider-braised chicken ideal as thoughts turn to fall recipes

Gretchen Mckay
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Fall ushers in a different kind of cooking for many home cooks. When the weather gets cooler, we’re happy to trade cooking outside on the grill for baking, roasting or sauteing dinner on the stovetop.

This easy one-pan recipe is a great kickoff to fall. September means apple season, and now is also when cabbages such as Brussels sprouts are plentiful in grocery stores and at farmers markets.

Braising the chicken in hard cider — another apple product that’s easy to find in our region — amplifies its seasonal flavor, adding a subtle sweetness to the dish. (The alcohol cooks off.)

I served the chicken on top of couscous to stretch out the recipe, and you could do the same with rice or noodles. If you don’t want to fuss with buying an alcoholic beverage, substitute regular apple cider or apple juice to make the sauce.

Cider-braised Chicken With Apples and Brussels Sprouts

5 slices bacon, chopped

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 31/2 pounds total)

2 medium tart red apples, cored and cut into wedges

1 12-ounce bottle hard cider

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or fennel seed

2 tablespoons whole grain mustard

1 teaspoon kosher salt

12 ounces fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved if large (2 cups)

Cooked couscous, rice or noodles, for serving

In a very large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove from pan to paper towel-lined plate, reserving drippings in skillet.

Add chicken to pan with drippings, skin side down, and cook 10 minutes or until browned, turning once; remove from skillet. Add apples to the skillet and cook 4 minutes or until browned on both sides; remove from skillet. Drain and discard drippings from skillet.

Add cider, thyme, mustard, and salt to skillet, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Return chicken to skillet. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Add Brussels sprouts. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Add apples and cook, uncovered, 3-5 minutes more or until chicken is done (at least 165 degrees).

To serve, spoon couscous, rice or noodles onto a plate or shallow bowl. Divide chicken thighs, Brussels sprouts and apples among bowls or plates. Spoon cider mixture over top. Sprinkle each serving with bacon.

Serves 4.

— Adapted from