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The Pays d’Auge is located in central Normandy—the land of butter and cream and apples. It is also the home of Calvados (apple brandy), as well as hard cider and Pommeau (a fortified-style apple wine). It is only fitting that a traditional chicken sauté from this region would feature cream, Calvados and apples.

The components of Poulet Vallée d’Auge vary surprisingly little from recipe to recipe.  There are of course the three signature ingredients (Calvados, cream and apples).  And most versions will also include shallots, mushrooms, thyme and bay.  The greatest variation occurs in the liquids that are used.  In addition to the Calvados and cream some recipes add even more liquid—hard cider or chicken stock are typical. I added hard cider and stock to mine. If you do not have any Calvados handy, I would suggest you use brandy. It will not be the same but it is better to use that than to not make the dish at all.

Since we are in the middle of apple season, now would be a perfect time to sample this dish.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 firm, tart apples, peeled, cored, quartered, (I used pink lady), make sure you choose an apple that holds its shape when cooked
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 chicken, cut into 8
  •  salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 leek, white and light-green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Calvados (apple brandy)
  • 3/4 cup brut apple cider
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 250 g / 8 oz button mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 1  egg yolk

Preparation:

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large dutch oven, I used a 27 cm / 10″ Le Creuset, over medium heat
Add the apples and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, until golden
Set aside
Add another tablespoon of butter and add the mushrooms
Cook, stirring frequently, until brown, about 5 minutes
Set aside
Add the remaining butter and the oil to the pot and increase heat to medium high
Add the chicken pieces and cook until golden brown all over, about 10 minutes
Set aside
Add the leeks and shallots and cook until soft, about 5 minutes, stirring continuously
Remove the pot from the heat
Add the Calvados and ignite with a long lighter and allow flames to die down
Return the pot to the heat and pour in the cider
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half
Return the chicken to the pot
Add thyme, bay leaves, broth and salt and pepper
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked
Remove the chicken and keep warm
Whisk the egg yolk and crème fraîche together in a bowl
Add the cream mixture to the pot and mix
Add the chicken, the apples and mushrooms and allow to warm through for about 5 minutes on a low heat
Sprinkle with fresh parsley
Serve with rice, tagliatelle or mashed potatoes
Bon Appétit!

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