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hard cider braised chicken with bacon and apples

Hard Cider Braised Chicken

Tender chicken and apples pair beautifully with hard cider, bacon, mustard, and herbs in this comforting autumn dish.

Inspired by several sources; mostly, Serious Eats and Fine Cooking

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword braised chicken recipe, chicken dinner recipe, hard cider
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Yield 4 servings
Calories 834 kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks (about 4 of each)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 apples , peeled, cored, and cut into 8 wedges*
  • 2 large shallots , about 1/2 cup, chopped
  • 3 slices thick-cut bacon , cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups hard apple cider **
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
  • 1 large sprig fresh sage (about 5 leaves)
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme (about 1 tablespoon leaves)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
US Customary - Metric

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Season chicken well with salt and pepper on both sides. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat vegetable oil until just smoking. Add chicken, starting with the skin side down, and brown 5 minutes per side until golden. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.
  2. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pan. Add apple wedges and sauté over medium-high heat until just beginning to brown around the edges, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Add shallots and bacon to the pan and cook 3-5 minutes, until the fat is rendered from the bacon and the shallots are soft.
  3. Slowly add hard cider, whisking to release the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Whisk in Dijon and stone ground mustards, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Add chicken, sage, and thyme to the liquid. Cover the Dutch oven and bake for 25 minutes.
  4. Add apples to the Dutch oven. Re-cover and continue baking for 10-15 minutes, until chicken is very tender.
  5. Remove chicken and apples from the Dutch oven and tent with foil. Discard sage and thyme sprigs from the braising liquid. Return Dutch oven to the stove and bring liquid to a simmer. 

  6. Whisk in heavy cream and simmer on medium-low until sauce is slightly reduced and thickened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over the chicken and apples and serve with egg noodles or potatoes, if desired.

Recipe Notes

*Apple variety can vary here based on your personal sweetness preferences and availability. I had Honeycrisp apples to use up, which aren't usually ideal for braising, but they turned out out ok. Fuji would be fantastic here, as would a slightly tarter Rome or Jonagold.

**For best results, use a crisp cider that is on the drier side (as opposed to sweet). I used a 5% ABV cider made from 100% apple juice with no hops.