So we're in the thick of winter now and I'm staring out at a miserable, grey day with a constant stream of rain bouncing off the little patio area beyond the kitchen door. Even the cats are having second thoughts about venturing outside. It's the sort of day I'm happy to see once in a while, provided there is food in the fridge and the promise of a snuggly blanket, comfy sofa, a steaming hot brew and a good film (like The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - have you seen it?) later in the afternoon. It's also the kind of day I want to cosy my tummy with great food!
This sweet sour dish, which heralds from Lyon in East-Central France, typically makes use of the finest produce in the area, in this case the famous (Poulet Bresse) chicken. But I have sent it 700 kilometres or so up the autoroute into Normandy, by using apples and cream for which that region is famed. And what could be better than good old AIP staple, apple cider vinegar, to add the required acidity, followed by a little coconut cream to mollify and balance the tartness and round everything off to tang-tastic perfection!
Choose the best quality chicken thighs you can source and make sure they are skin on and bone in to retain that succulent flavour. Using whole alliums lends the dish a satisfying depth as they take on all those juices - the shallots that shoot out their Russian doll-like innards when prodded with the tines of your fork, together with melt-in-the-mouth-tender cloves of garlic both serve to enliven the taste buds.
And while you're at it, be sure to choose a firm apple for the job as well - a softer flesh variety will resort to purée and that's not what we're aiming for here. Finally, if you don't tolerate coconut (which you won't taste btw) don't let that stop you from trying this winning bistro dish. It will be sharper without it, that's true, but a memorable feast all the same.
chicken with cider vinegar cream and caramelised apples
Note: Anything acidic is best cooked in stainless steel. It's not a great idea to use cast-iron since you run the risk of leaching iron into your food. It may also change the flavour.
Print the recipe here
2 tbsp solid fat (I use lard or coconut oil), divided
6-8 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in
8 shallots, peeled and left whole
8 plump cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup bone broth (chicken)
4 large sprigs thyme
1/4 cup coconut cream *
sea salt to taste
1 large firm sweet apple (such as gala)
Heat 1 tbsp of the fat on a medium/high heat in a large non corrosive sauté pan (see note above). Place the chicken thighs into the hot fat, skin side down, and allow to brown for approx 3 minutes. Resist the temptation to move them too soon or the skins may be pulled off by the pan. Turn the thighs over to the flesh side for a minute or two to quickly brown, regulating the temperature so they don't burn. Do this in two batches so they don't steam and be careful of spitting fat. Put onto a large plate and set aside.
Pour all but 1 tbsp of the chicken fat into a small container and reserve for other purposes. Now add the shallots to the pan and allow them to brown for 2-3 mins, shaking the pan once in a while. Add the garlic and cook a further minute as for the shallots. Pour in the apple cider vinegar and deglaze the pan by stirring with a wooden spoon to release the sediment on the bottom. Next add the broth and return the chicken pieces, making sure they fit snugly into the liquid so they take in all the flavour. Slip the thyme sprigs in between the chicken, cover the pan with a tight fitting lid, then bring up to a simmer and cook for around 30-35 minutes until the chicken is tender. Remove the chicken, shallots and the garlic to a warm place, add the coconut cream to the pan and turn up the heat. Bubble the mixture until the sauce is slightly thickened, approx 10 minutes. Taste and add sea salt as desired. Discard the thyme.
Meanwhile, cut the apple into quarters, cut off the core, then slice each quarter into three. Heat the remaining fat in a frying pan and add the apple slices. Cook on a medium heat for around 3-4 minutes on either side until evenly browned.
Put the chicken into a pretty serving dish or directly onto plates. Pour the sauce over the top and serve the apple slices alongside.
* Put a 400ml can of coconut milk into the fridge at least the night before you want to make the recipe. When you need to open, turn the can of refrigerated coconut milk upside down, open with a can opener and slowly pour the watery liquid off into a separate jug. You can use this liquid for smoothies or drink as is. The cream is what is left below.
Russ Crandall says
Kate, what an excellent leading photo. Great work! Loved Walter Mitty.
Russ, thank you so much for popping over, and for leaving your wonderful comment. You just made my day! 🙂
This looks amazing! I will make it this weekend, but I react to apples, so I'll be looking for green pears instead.
Thanks Josianne and I hope you enjoy it. Do you have a problem with apple cider vinegar too? If so, try and find a sherry vinegar without sulphites - that'll do the job nicely 🙂
I just tried this recipe and was amazed at how flavorful this dish is. Everyone loved it. I made exactly as directed ☺
That's so great to hear, thanks for reporting back 🙂
Andrea Wyckoff says
I love the combo of sweet and sour in a dish! And your recipe looks like it is perfectly balanced. Your photos are making me wish I had this waiting in the oven for me! This recipe looks absolutely delicious.
Aw thanks Andrea, wouldn't it be a treat to have something already waiting in the oven from time to time. That does sound good 🙂
Can't wait to try this out as we all love French food! Just wondered what sides you served this with; I'm getting a bit stuck in a vegetable rut at the moment.
Hi Sarah. I would serve something mashed (celeriac or cauliflower, or even a mixture) so the chicken juices can seep in. That would be so comforting. I'd also serve some greens - kale sautéed in some fat with a sprinkling of sea salt. Because the chicken has so much flavour, I would keep everything else simple so there's nothing competing on your plate. Hope that helps - I'm hungry now 🙂
Mash and simple greens it is then 🙂
Your blog often makes me hungry (in a good way!).
I made this a couple of nights ago. Just right for a rainy night in Victoria. I used the cream from a whole can of coconut milk and we loved it. Thanks for all your brilliant recipes!
Yum, I'm so pleased it cosied you up across the water. And thanks so much for letting me know 🙂
This looks incredible. I'm actually not AIP. What is the traditional cream used in this dish -- heavy cream, creme fraiche or other? (Le Creuset (enamel coated) is ok with acid though, right? I'd always used SS but then heard that enamel was safest with acid. Now you have me wondering if that's true.)
Fabulous recipe, photography and storyline for this dish. We're having the same kind of weather here in SF and this is perfect cold/wet weather cooking!
Thank you for sharing this!
Hi Susan, originally there wouldn't be any cream in this dish, it was all about the vinegar (which would have been wine vinegar). Normandy, however, is famous for apples and dairy produce - in particular its creme fraiche so if you want to use cream rather than coconut then creme fraiche is the way to go. The result will be tastier than heavy cream, which I think would take away too much of the acidity, which is the point of the recipe.
As for the pan - I use the enamel coated le Creuset too (or stainless steel), it's my favourite and there's no concern since it is impervious to anything acidic that may be used. With cast iron you need to be cautious when using ingredients such as vinegar, tomatoes, citrus etc as they may leach iron into your food - and too much iron can be extremely bad for your health.
Thanks again for popping in. Have a great weekend 🙂
Kate, you had me at creme fraiche. Love the stuff and this is on the meal plan for the week.
My Le Creuset Dutch oven is the bomb; couldn't live without it. Wonderful for braising and so easy to clean. I'll be using it for this dish.
Re: uncoated cast iron: I generally avoid/limit using it to reduce risk of iron overload, and yes, no acidic or reactive foods for sure.
Have a great week, and I hope the sun shines through for you!
Hi Kate, I can't wait to try this recipe! I have just discovered that I can no longer tolerate coconut, so I'm glad you stated that this dish can be made without it. Thanks for the great recipes and inspirations!!
Hey Marusha, sorry to hear about the coconut but am so glad this recipe doesn't have to be ruled out. Just taste the liquor after cooking and if it's too strong add a little more broth. Enjoy!! 🙂
Just made this ..waiting to eat it ! The o my thing is I wish I would have browned the chicken a little longer..I did broil it a few minutes to brown it up some more ...next time I'll know ! But so far it looks great
Browning the chicken makes it look so much better but it also gives it much more flavour - definitely worth doing. Anyway I hope you enjoy eating it, that's the main thing 🙂
It was absolutely amazing..restaurant quality..will make it again and again !!!!
You just made my day 🙂
Made this last night, great dish! Will also brown the chicken a bit more next time. I used coconut manna to get a creamy sauce, worked great! And not wanting to dirty yet another pot () I added a chopped up apple to the sauce for the last few minutes. Will definitely make again.
Yes, browning really does improve the dish. I'm so pleased you enjoyed it 🙂
One week on the AIP, and this was just the dish we need to celebrate! As my husband said, "This isn't AIP good, this is better-than-a-restaurant good!" Thank you so much for sharing recipes that both heal and inspire. Your blog is my go to resource for how to do AIP with style and flavor. 🙂
PS. To other aspiring chefs, I browned my chicken but wished I had browned it even longer! Don't rush that part of the process.
Well I think your husband has great taste Cait, ha! 😉
Thanks so much for passing on his glowing report, and it's great that you're celebrating. And yes, browning equals flavour 🙂
Liz Hofacket says
This was a fantastic recipe! It’s truly good and I could not taste a bit of coconut!!! Thank you so much.... I’m making it again (the second time this week) tomorrow and going to double it.
Haha, so happy you love the recipe as much as I do!
Is there a strong coconut flavor? My SO doesn't really like coconut but I'm dying to try this.
No, not at all, it just adds a little creaminess to the sauce. You don't need to put it in (add a little more broth instead) but it's worth doing because it's so good. It's also quite a tangy sauce and the coconut cuts through the acidity well.