Here you go guys, the second course. This recipe jumped out at me because it was aggressively flavoured with apples, from the granny smiths and apple cider to the Calvados brandy. I was intrigued to see if the final dish would be overly sweet, however it worked extremely well with the seasoned chicken and the Shiitake’s flavour came through well; to fill out the meal I served it with parsnip fries. So here’s what you’ll need:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 pound Shiitake mushrooms de-stemmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- salt & pepper
- one 4 pound chicken cut into 4 or 8 pieces
- 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cubed
- 2 large shallots, minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup Calvados
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 cup apple cider (I used dry alcoholic cider to temper a bit of sweetness)
- 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
- teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons minced chives
- 2 large parsnips cut into rustic fries
- A sprig or two thyme & rosemary leaves, chopped
Start by preheating the oven to 350°F (180°C). In a large, deep ovenproof pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive over moderate heat. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring a few times. Transfer the cooked mushrooms to a bowl.
In the same pan heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and add to the pan skin side down (don’t overcrowd the pan as you want the skin to crisp up nicely). Cook for about four minutes until well browned, turn the chicken and repeat. Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and add to the mushrooms, drain off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan.
Add the chopped apples to the pan and cook over moderately high heat until browned, approximately 2 minutes. Add the shallots and garlic and cook over a low heat, stirring a few times until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour.
Add the Calvados and cook over high for one minute, making sure to scrape all the tasty, crispy bits from the base of the pan. Stir in the chicken stock, cider, caraway seeds and crushed red pepper and bring to a simmer. Return the chicken pieces, skin side up and any juices to the pan, making sure the skin is above the liquid (you want to keep that skin extra crispy). Another option is you could carefully remove the skin from the chicken and use to garnish at the end, or completely omit the skin for a healthier version. Braise the chicken in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the breast meat is just cooked. Transfer the breast meat to an ovenproof platter and keep warm. Continue braising the remaining chicken until cooked through, around 10 minutes longer, add to the platter and keep warm.
Meanwhile, heat a thick based pan (preferably cast iron) over a high heat, add several tablespoons of olive oil. Carefully drop in parsnip fries and fry over high heat, flipping frequently so as not to burn, around 5 minutes. Add the rosemary and thyme. Fry until brown and tender. Drain on paper towel and season with salt and pepper.
Boil the pan juices and apples over moderately high heat until slightly thickened, about 6 minutes. Add the mushrooms. Remove the pan from the heat and swirl in the butter. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste and add half the chives.