Chicken Normandy with Caramelised Apples
Escapism through food enables travel beyond borders and connects us to unfamiliar places that appease our curiosity. If you’re staying home and eating in, again, then come with me. Our vicarious journey is taking us to France. On the menu? Normandy chicken with caramelised apples and crisp rosemary potatoes. This French classic encapsulates the essence of the autumnal orchid. We’ll be using apples, in whole form, the cider and brandy, each of which play a unique role in making this creamy chicken casserole one of Normandy’s finest.
Situated in Northern France, Normandy is known for its exceptional butter, Camembert and of course, world-class apples. The success of Normandy chicken relies upon in-season apples and a handful of kitchen staples. Shallots are preferable although onions will do if that’s what you have on hand, woody herbs, fresh cream, bacon and bone-in chicken thighs and legs. With the current alcohol ban in SA you may find yourself sans the brandy and apple cider. I’ve left a cook’s note at the bottom of the page that mimics the cider flavour we’re after. Unfortunately there’s no substitute for the brandy. Close one eye, omit the amber fluid and soldier on.
For the recipe we’re exploring the Pot in Pot method (PIP) using the Instant Pot Duo Plus. To be honest, this is the first time I’ve tried the PIP method. The pot-in-pot allows you make two separate elements at the same time, a win for busy cooks needing to simplify midweek suppers. Instant Pot is about convenience cooking without compromising on taste and quality. We’re after efficiency with impressively delicious results. And this chicken casserole is that.
For this Normandy chicken recipe, the potatoes are placed on the trivet and positioned on top the chicken. Sixteen minutes later both chicken and potatoes are perfectly cooked. You can serve the potatoes as is or, pan fry with a little butter and rosemary until crisp and golden. I’d do the latter. It’s heavenly French comfort food made quick and simple.
Chicken Normandy with Caramelised Apples
- 30ml (2 tablespoons) olive oil, plus extra for crisping the potatoes
- 8 chicken pieces (thighs and legs), bone-in, skinless
- 125g bacon lardons
- 2 shallots or 1 brown onion, finely diced
- 2 stems celery, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 30ml (2 tablespoons) brandy (optional but recommended)
- 200ml chicken stock
- 250ml (1 cup) apple cider (See cook’s note below)
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 6 fresh sage leaves
- 4 pink lady apples (2 peeled and diced, 2 skin-on and cut into wedges)
- 500g baby potatoes, rinsed
- 125ml (1/2 cup) fresh cream
- 10ml (2 teaspoons) cornflour combined with 30ml cold water
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 tablespoons butter
- flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- Set the Instant Pot on the Sauté function.
- Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the Instant Pot. Working in two batches, brown the chicken on both sides, then remove to a plate and set aside.
- Add another tablespoon of oil and cook the bacon until the fat renders and the bacon is golden. Remove and add to the chicken.
- Add the shallots, or onion, and celery and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute. Deglaze with the brandy.
- Pour in the stock and apple cider. Return the chicken and bacon to the pot, add the thyme, sage and diced apple. Fold the trivet legs inward and place on top of the chicken.
- Place the potatoes in a pyrex bowl and pour over 60ml water. Position the bowl on top of the trivet. Cover and seal. Make sure the pressure valve is in sealing position. Select the Pressure Cook function and set the timer for 16 minutes.
- Use the Natural Pressure Release for 10 minutes, then use the Steam Release Press button to release the remaining steam. Carefully remove the potatoes and trivet. Add the cream and corn flour slurry and stir through. Select the Sauté function and simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce is thickened.
- In the meantime, heat the butter and 30ml olive oil in a heavy based pan over a medium heat. Drain the potatoes and press to flatten. Season with salt and black pepper. Cook the potatoes in the hot oil until golden and crisp on both sides. Remove, cover to keep warm and set aside. Add the apples to the pan and cook until caramelised, about 3 minutes.
- Transfer the chicken to a serving plate. Add the potatoes and caramelised apples. Scatter with parsley and serve immediately.
Cook’s Note: In place of Apple Cider combine 180ml (3/4 cup) cloudy apple juice with 30ml water and 30ml apple cider vinegar.
If you missed the Instant Pot Wild rice chicken soup everyone’s been raving about, here’s the link:
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