With crisp, golden skin and succulent meat, cider-braised chicken with apples, herbs, and caramelized onions makes for a classic autumn meal. The hard cider-infused braising liquid doubles as a flavorful sauce, so you’ll want to serve the chicken thighs with a whole grain like freekeh or farro to capture all the delicious flavors. This post was created in partnership with Farmer Focus.
Cider-Braised Chicken: Quintessentially Fall
Braising weather’s been slow to come this year. Here in the Virginia Piedmont, it seems like the first frost is still weeks away. No matter, even just a little chill is reason enough to get out a skillet and make the most autumnal meal possible: apple cider-braised chicken thighs with tangy apples and crispy caramelized onions.
When you think of braising, chicken might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But this technique brings maximum flavor and tenderness from the chicken while also cooking up with golden, crispy skin. There are also fresh fall apples, thyme, and bay leaves to build out the flavor. Dry hard apple cider doubles as a braising liquid, rendering the chicken wonderfully tender while also lending a crisp counterpoint to the rich sweetness of the chicken and apple mixture.
Ready in Under an Hour
Another thing this apple cider-braised chicken has going for it is timing. After a quick sear on the stove, the braise bubbles away unattended in the oven for 35 minutes or so, meaning the dish is ready from start to finish in about an hour. Though it’s pretty and delicious enough to be dinner party-worthy, the ease and timing make it perfect for a busy weeknight, too.
Farmer Focus: Higher Standards, Better Chicken
The supporting ingredients each play their role in this braise, but great-tasting chicken is its foundation. Farmer Focus chicken is raised by small family farms in the Shenandoah Valley with a unique model that centers partner farmers and their insights, and gives them the freedom to make decisions that are better for the chickens and the planet. Farmer Focus chickens are raised with higher standards, whether that be ensuring the chicken is verified organic and GMO-free or ensuring every product is fully traceable, so you always know right where your chicken came from. At every step, Farmer Focus cares for flocks and the farmers who raise them, and that quality comes through in each bite.
Find Farmer Focus chicken at a store near you here.
Bringing It All Together
When sourcing ingredients, look for crisp red or green apples that edge more sour than sweet and a dry hard cider.
I served this braise with freekeh as a side and loved the way the whole grains soaked up the braising liquid. Add a simple green salad, and you have the perfect fall meal.
With crisp, golden skin and succulent meat, cider-braised chicken with apples, herbs, and caramelized onions makes for a classic autumn meal. The hard cider-infused braising liquid doubles as a flavorful sauce, so you’ll want to serve the chicken thighs with a whole grain like freekeh or farro to capture all the delicious flavors.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 yellow onion, sliced into paper-thin rounds
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig thyme
- Sea salt
- 1 pack Farmer Focus chicken thighs
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 cups 1/2-inch thick sliced apples, select crisp, not-too-sweet varieties
- 12 ounces hard apple cider, preferably a dry variety
- 1 - 1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth, store bought or homemade
At least an hour, but up to a day ahead of time, sprinkle the chicken on both sides with sea salt and set back in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
To make the caramelized onions, set a small skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter and then fold in the onions along with a pinch of sea salt and the herbs. Cook just until onions start to sizzle. Turn heat down to low, and stirring frequently, continue cooking onions for about 45 minutes, or until they’re a nice golden hue and taste sweet. Add a pinch or two of sea salt to taste.
To make the braise, set a 10-inch cast iron skillet or other large, heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the canola oil and then chicken, skin side down. Cook for 3 - 4 minutes, or until chicken skin is a deep golden hue. Flip and cook 4 minutes longer. Edge heat down slightly if the oil starts to pop. Remove chicken from pan and turn heat to medium and pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat.
In the same skillet, add the onion, and cook until translucent, 5 - 7 minutes. Fold in the mustard and the apples, and cook 5 minutes more, just until apples have softened a little bit. Add the cider; use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits. Tuck the chicken thighs, skin side up, among the apples. Tuck the thyme sprigs and bay leaf around the chicken. Gently pour in 1 cup broth. The idea here is to have only the bottom half of the chicken submerged, so only add as much as you need.
Carefully set skillet in the oven. Let the chicken braise, uncovered, for 35 minutes. If the chicken skin start to get too brown, tent it loosely with foil. Using hot pads, remove the pan from the oven and check that the chicken has reached 165 degrees. If the meat isn’t yet pulling away at the bone, set back in the oven and cook 10 minutes more.
Serve chicken thighs over a whole grain like freekeh or farro. Top with caramelized onions and several spoonfuls of the apples and braising liquid. Garnish with fresh herbs.