Chicken with Creamy Apple Cider Gravy

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.

Chicken with Creamy Apple Cider Gravy

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.

A Good Oak, 1892 – 2008
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.

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Moist chicken in a mahogany sauce
Hands-on time: 10 minutes to start,
10 to finish
Time to table: 50 minutes
Serves 4
  • 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
  • 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.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving: 261 Calories; 15g Tot Fat; 6g Sat Fat; 6g Carb; 0g Fiber; 223mg Sodium; 125mg Cholesterol; 24g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS WW Old Points 6.5 & WW PointsPlus 7

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.

View from my office, the day before
10:53 am 2:35 pm 3:52 pm
Next Day 12:39 pm 12:44 pm 6:45 pm

More Fast Chicken Recipes Perfect for Fall

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Chicken Cider Stew Sweet 'n' Hot Chicken Baked Chicken with Herb-Roasted Potatoes

Recent Favorites from A Veggie Venture

If you like Kitchen Parade's recipes, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, visit A Veggie Venture, my food blog, home to the Alphabet of Vegetables where there's a vegetable in every recipe and vegetables in every course.

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Hmmm... does appear strange. Maybe they wanted more light to reach their house/lawn. Or maybe it was diseased. We had to take down a big maple a few years ago when we discovered (while trimming it up) that it was hollow down one side. We had no idea! Thankfully it hadn't fallen on our house or a car before we discovered this.

    Cider gravey, huh? I've never heard of such a thing, but it does sound delicious.

  2. They have been chainsawing in my neighborhood for weeks. Each time I see a healthy tree go down--and I look at all the cut up trunks--a bit of me dies.

    It's so horrible.

    in sympathy.

  3. Sally ~ No, it was a healthy tree. A sick tree I would mourn but understand. This tree was big, because this is an old neighborhood and before it had houses, it was a gold course. The city estimated it was 120+ years old.

    Barb ~ Thank you for understanding. It's been four months since I watched it come down outside my office window, it still hurts to think about it.

  4. Anonymous10/13/2008

    I loved the story about the trees in your life as well as those around others. I will look forward to trying the Chicken with Creamy Cider Gravy; and I will also serve it with my special favorite, buttercup squash.

  5. Anonymous10/15/2008

    Hi, I just discovered your site, and wanted to tell how touched I was by your post about trees, and mourning the loss of special friend trees. I love your father - I taught my young daughter the same lesson, verbatim, about trees being living beings, very recently. In fact, I believe that all things in nature have consciousness. I wish more people understood that!



  6. Anonymous10/15/2008

    Hello from another tree hugger person! I just don't understand why people take down healthy trees when it takes them so long to grow!
    We have gentlemen taking out wood from trees that have fallen, but not healthy ones.

    I live in the country and like having some screening between me and my prolifically building (realtor) and new neighbors. What was once a clean field is now going to house 14 houses total in the field to my direct north, less than a football field away from my bathroom/bedroom window. Grrrrr. Had I known that field was up for sale, hubby and I would have bought it. The road is literally less than a football field, about half of one, from our bedroom window.
    I hate curtains.

    Trees work wonderfully for that aspect of decorating.

  7. Anonymous1/31/2009

    Goodbye big beautiful tree. You were probably around long before any of us. It's a little sad/funny but around here people love to pay money to have their trees topped(think broccoli after all the green florets have been cut off and you are left with the stubby stalk).As soon as they do this the tree becomes a dying tree open to attack from insects and disease. Then soon as there is a wind storm or ice storm its these trees that break off(large chunks) and fall onto the road or onto houses. The very thing I think these people are trying to avoid. You never see any of the untouched and tallest of trees just lose their limbs like that. But anyhow cider gravy sounds really interesting I'm going to have a try with it

  8. Just thought you should know I am a vegetarian but love gravy. I made your Chicken with Cider Gravy but substituted seitan fr the chicken. It was great!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna