A one-skillet chicken supper, full-flavored chicken thighs cradled in a creamy gravy made with apple cider. Plus I share my favorite technique for pulling all the flavor from chicken skins without adding all the calories. It's brilliant if I may say so myself!
Republished in 2012, one of my favorite fall recipes, simple, savory, satisfying.
When we lose an old friend, we know the expressions of grief: we cry, we console, we deliver casseroles. But how should an old tree be mourned? Often, the gravestump remains, raw, harsh, ugly.
Here lie the roots of an old friend, an oak that shaded our lives in summer, dropped acorns for the squirrels, shed leaves to rake, cut craggly patterns into winter skies.
Gone but not Forgotten.
When I visit my family home in the north woods of Minnesota, I visit the trees, too. There’s the clump in whose V the neighbor girls crafted doll beds of crimson poppy petals. There’s the birch where family photographs were taken, recording new rings in both tree and children. After I cut a boy’s initials into the trunk of the poplar by the road, my forester father sat me down for a serious talk. “Trees are living beings,” he taught.
Kirkwood, Webster and all the 100 towns in my hometown of St. Louis are thick with trees. Flying into Lambert, a window seat gives evidence, vast tracts of green. Oaks and maples take a couple of generations to grow tall. A storm takes one down, or severs a limb, in seconds; a man with a chainsaw requires 15 minutes. Justice prevails it seems, when it takes the man and a chipper a day to remove the tree’s roots, its marker, its grave, but no, never, not its memory.
CHICKEN with CREAMY APPLE CIDER GRAVY
10 to finish
Time to table: 50 minutes
- 1/2 tablespoon butter (for flavor)
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil (for its low smoke point)
- 1-1/4 pounds chicken thighs, preferably bones-in, skins-on
- Salt & pepper
- Dried sage
CREAMY APPLE CIDER GRAVY
- 1 - 4 shallots (or 1 small onion), chopped small
- 3/4 cup apple cider, preferably unpasteurized
- 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/4 cup cream or 1 tablespoon butter
- Salt & pepper to taste
CHICKEN In a large well-seasoned or non-stick skillet, heat butter and oil on medium heat until shimmery. Remove chicken skins, discarding all but one. Place the one skin and thighs top-side down in skillet (they should sizzle). Season with salt, pepper and sage, then let cook without moving for 5 minutes. Turn over, season, cook another 5 minutes. Cover and let cook for 30 minutes. With tongs, transfer thighs to a plate, keep warm.
CREAMY APPLE CIDER GRAVY Add shallot, stir to coat and let cook 1 – 2 minutes. Add cider and soy sauce. Increase heat to medium high, bring liquid to a fast simmer with lots of bubbles. Stirring often, let cook until cider reduces by about half. Stir in the cream or butter, let cook, stirring often, until sauce turns mahogany and thickens.
Serve chicken with Creamy Apple Cider Gravy draped over the top.
Last month a reader wrote to sing praises of a pork chop version of Chicken Sybil using apple cider for the liquid. She was surprised, however, when the cider flamed up when added to the hot skillet, just like a flambé. I've never had this happen, but just in case, you might turn off the fire before adding the cider. Thanks for the tip, Sally!
This chicken is completely wonderful with fall's 'winter' squash like butternut, hubbard, acorn and more. In the photo is Acorn Squash Roasted Face Down but there are so many great ways to cook winter squash but here are My Favorite Winter Squash Recipes.
I wrote this column in 2007 when neighbors removed a small but healthy tree. And then in 2008, neighbors on the other side removed a healthy 100-year old oak tree. Some decisions, there's no understanding.
More Fast Chicken Recipes Perfect for Fall
Recent Favorites from A Veggie Venture
~ Julia Child's Lentil Salad ~
~ One-Skillet Cauliflower with Cheese Sauce ~
~ Pumpkin Dip ~
~ Sweet 'n' Sour Cabbage ~
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