Here at Catbird Cottage, this dish is in regular rotation for top-notch comfort food: cider-braised chicken, apples, and onions, all in a savory-sweet, thyme-infused sauce. This recipe brings fall’s greats together—picking apples and roasting dinner—creating a meal so good, you likely won’t have leftovers. The secret lies in deeply browning the elements in a skillet (I love cast-iron), then creating a lush sauce with your favorite hard cider and good stock. Finished in the oven, the bubbling braise fills the house with an incredible aroma and produces onions and apples that are melting-soft. Definitely serve with crusty bread or mashed potatoes to soak up the savory sauce.
- Prep time 5 minutes
- Cook time 40 minutes
- Serves 2 to 4
bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
extra-virgin olive oil
small yellow onions, halved and peeled
2 to 3
small apples (such as Stayman Winesap, Fuji, or Mutsu), cored and halved
Freshly ground black pepper
chicken or vegetable stock
dry hard cider
Bread, noodles, or potatoes, for serving
- Heat the oven to 400°F.
- Pat dry the chicken thighs. Heat a large, ovenproof skillet (at least 10 to 12 inches in diameter) until hot over medium-high heat, then add the oil and swirl to coat. Add the thighs, skin side down, and sprinkle with kosher salt. Sear for 3 minutes, then add the onion halves, cut side down, and sear for another 5 minutes. You can rotate the pan as needed for even browning, but don’t disturb the chicken or onions.
- Flip the onions. Check the chicken—its skin should be golden. If it’s golden, flip the chicken, too. (If not, wait another minute or so.) Cook for 3 minutes, then add the apples, cut side down, scooting the onions and chicken as needed. Throw in the thyme sprigs and season everything with salt and pepper. Cook the apples for 4 to 7 minutes, until they’re evenly browned, then flip them over.
- Carefully pour in the cider—it will boil vigorously—and let it simmer for 4 to 8 minutes, until reduced by about half. Add the stock and bring to a boil.
- Transfer the pan to the oven. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until the chicken thighs reach 165°F on an instant-read thermometer, or their juices run clear when the meat is pierced with a knife. The sauce will be thin, the consistency of pan juice rather than a thick gravy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve with something starchy—like crusty bread, noodles, or potatoes—to soak up all the sauce.