It’s my theory that anything cooked with alcohol tastes better. Whether it’s wine, or beer, or vodka, or…pretty much anything! Hard cider in this case. Now, before you dismiss me as nothing but a boozer, remember that when you’re cooking with alcohol, most of the alcohol evaporates, leaving you with a distinctive savory hit that brings out the flavors of everything and ups the ante on the umami, without making you tipsy. Does all of the alcohol evaporate? No, not all of it, but most of it. If you don’t like cooking with alcohol you can of course substitute chicken broth or normal (not hard) cider in this recipe, but let me assure you that having a little alcohol in this dish really does make it better.
This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving, and although I’m not in Canada right now, I decided to make a fall-themed meal to celebrate both Thanksgiving and the end of Oktoberfest. This recipe is from Elise at SimplyRecipes, and it’s a winner! Basically, chicken legs are slowly braised with onions and hard cider, and some browned apples are added in at the end to give the savory sauce a hint of sweetness and extra flavor. It is delicious, I tell you, just delicious! We finished the whole thing between the two of us.
By the way, did you know that the reason Canadian Thanksgiving is in October is because it’s a HARVEST festival? And well, temperatures get a little colder a little earlier up in the Great White North, so we have our Thanksgiving quite a bit earlier than the US. Personally, I feel that having Thanksgiving on Oct 11 is a little more sensible than Nov 25th, but that must be the Canuck in me talking.
I followed the recipe pretty faithfully (I LOVE it when recipes work as written, don’t you?). The only changes I made were to use hard cider instead of brandy and normal cider, and sour cream instead of cream. I just didn’t want to buy a bottle of brandy just for one dish, and since the hard cider at Trader Joe’s was pretty cheap, I went with that. Sour cream is also just a more useful item for me than cream, and I didn’t want half a carton of cream languishing in the fridge for the rest of the week.
It was a pretty good mini Thanksgiving dinner for the two of us, along with an arugula-cranberry salad.
It also gave me a chance to use up those indestructible apples that wouldn’t soften in this tart, but were perfect here. They kept their shape, they were just slightly tart, and they browned and softened up beautifully.
I’ll direct you over to the original recipe for Chicken Normandy at SimplyRecipes, and if you want to use hard cider, you just use 2 cups of hard cider instead of the brandy and normal cider. Also, if you choose to use sour cream, you’ll have to simmer the sauce gently while stirring to incorporate the cream right at the end.