How to make Normandy chicken that’s a perfect dinner as autumn nights draw in

Our kitchen garden cook Melanie Johnson has a wonderful recipe that combines the season's fruit with everything you need for a proper winter warmer meal.

Apples aren’t just good for sweet dishes — they can work equally well giving an extra zip to savoury main courses, as this perfect autumnal recipe shows.

Recipe: Normandy chicken with apples

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 20g butter
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 4 part-jointed chicken breasts with skin
  • 12 shallots, halved
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic, whole
  • 2 apples, halved
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • 200ml apple cider
  • 100ml goose fat
  • 500g new potatoes, halved
  • Sea salt
  • 50ml double cream
  • Green beans, olive oil and crushed garlic to serve

Normandy chicken with apples

Method

Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 6.

Melt the butter and oil in a large casserole dish over a medium to high heat. Season the chicken breasts all over and then place them skin- side down to brown. Sear all over to keep in the succulent flavours. Remove to a plate once browned.

Cook the shallots, rosemary and garlic cloves in the buttery juices until the shallots are caramelising on the edges. Season well. Add the halved apples, cut-side down, and, again, cook until the apples are just browning on the edges.

Return the chicken to the casserole dish and arrange everything in a single layer.

In a separate jug, combine the hot stock and cider. Pour into the casserole dish so the liquid comes halfway up the chicken and the crispy skin is still visible. Cover with a lid and put in the oven for 30 minutes or until the chicken is just cooked. A meat thermometer will register 74˚C when it’s perfectly done.

Heat the goose fat in a roasting dish before tossing with the new potatoes and sea salt. Roast for 30 minutes, together with the chicken.

Remove the casserole from the oven. Use a spider (or other implement) to take out the chicken and other ingredients, then cover the bird with foil. Discard the rosemary and garlic. Place the casserole dish back on the hob, add the cream and simmer to reduce, thicken and intensify the sauce, then pass it through a fine-mesh sieve.

Return everything to the casserole dish, heat through and serve with the potatoes. I serve mine with steamed green beans tossed with olive oil and crushed garlic.