It’s possible I am jumping the gun a little bit here – but I am ready for fall, even if the temperature outside still says summer. Soups, stews and braises, rich flavors and hearty, comforting dishes. And in that spirit, I offer this perfectly autumnal chicken stew, redolent with crisp apple cider and herbaceous tarragon. This recipe takes a heavy cue from the cooking of Normandy, France, but is also harkens England for me, where gorgeous hard cider is used in many creative ways in cooking. Whatever it’s national origin, it is a perfect fall meal for family or for company.
Hard cider (we’re talking the alcoholic variety) is getting easier and easier to find, with a myriad of options on the shelf. Use whatever one tickles your fancy, but stay away from super sweet versions or ones that have extra flavors added. I think a hearty stew like this stands alone, but you could certainly serve it with some mashed potatoes or some simply roasted small potatoes. I like a good green salad to round things out, and one with chopped apples complements the chickn nicely. And of course, serve it with a cold glass of cider!
- 8 strips of bacon
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- kosher salt and pepper
- 4 large shallots, thinly sliced and the rings seperated
- 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups hard cider (I use Stella Artois Cidre)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon, plus more for garnish
- Cut the bacon into small pieces and place in a 3 quart Dutch oven. Cook over medium high heat until the pieces are browned and crisp. Remove to a paper towel lined plate with a slotted spoon. While the bacon is cooking, cut the chicken breasts into 2-inch chunks and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. When the bacon is cooked and removed from the pot, carefully drop in the chicken pieces. Brown the chicken on all sides, stirring frequently, for just a few minutes, then remove to a plate with a slotted spoon. Add the shallots to the bacon grease in the pan and stir to coat. If there is not enough grease to thoroughly coat the shallots, add a dash of olive oil. Cook the shallots, stirring frequently until they are glassy and soft. Sprinkle over the flour and stir until there is no flour visible. Cook for about 1 minute, then pour in the cider and chicken broth. Stir to combine everything, then return the chicken to the pot. Stir in the tarragon and half of the cooked bacon and bring to a bubble, then lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer for one hour. Stir in the remaining cooked bacon.
- Serve in bowls sprinkled with some chopped tarragon.