Chicken Normandy or chicken à la Normande is a traditional French casserole dish. Chicken is browned and slowly braised to perfection in a creamy apple cider sauce which is then finished off with caramelised apple wedges. This apple cider chicken is a classic French recipe full of delicious and comforting flavours. All in all, a hearty and warming fall or autumn meal.
What is cider from Normandy?
Normandy is a coastal region located in the northwest of France, world famous for its D-day beaches and picturesque cities like Honfleur and Deauville. Away from the coastal areas, you’ll find green rolling hills, cattle grazing farmland, apple orchards and charming villages. On a culinary note, Normandy is famous for its cheeses, calvados, cider, seafood, cream and butter. The cider from Normandy is made with locally grown apples. Normandy cider is made from fermented apple juice and is usually quite low in alcohol, ranging on average from 2% to 5%. The apple cider from Normandy comes in brut (or dry), doux (or sweet) or demi-sec (semi dry) and is lightly sparking but rich and intense with fruity notes.
Which ingredients to use
Poulet à la Normande as they call this French chicken recipe locally celebrates the best that Normandy has to offer. It won’t always be easy to find local French produce, but this list gives you an overview of the best products or substitutes you can use. The full list of ingredients can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post.
- Chicken: For full flavour use whole chicken legs or thighs on the bone with skin.
- Apples: Use a sweet variety of apples, like Pink Lady, Jonagold, Golden Delicious or Boskoop in this dish.
- Apple cider: Use a dry cider from Normandy or any other alcoholic hard dry apple cider. Avoid the sweet and commercial versions since they contain too much sugar and the taste isn’t the same as the Normandy apple cider.
- Garlic and onions: As in any French stew, use garlic and onions for extra depth of flavour. The onions can be substituted with shallots.
- Cream: I have used a light cream (20%). Either light or heavy cream is great for this dish, so it’s rather a personal choice or whatever you have at home.
- Aromatics: I have used traditional French herbs in the sauce; sage, thyme and bay leaf. A spoonful of Dijon mustard and some chicken stock as well as salt and pepper finishes off the seasoning of the sauce.
How to make chicken Normandy
- Brown the chicken: Season the chicken legs with salt and pepper. Heat some oil in a large pot or pan over medium heat and brown the chicken on both sides. Take the chicken out of the pan and set aside for later.
- Prepare and fry the vegetables: In the same pan, add the diced onion and sauté until translucent. Add the minced garlic and diced apple to the onion and leave to caramelise for a couple of minutes on medium heat. Add a spoon of flour and stir well to coat. Leave to fry for a minute.
- Cook the chicken: Put the chicken back in the pan together with the Dijon mustard and aromatics; sage, bay leaves and thyme. Stir to mix. Pour in the apple cider as well as the chicken stock and bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and leave to simmer, without lid, on low heat. Without the lid, the sauce can slowly thicken to the right consistency while simmering.
- Caramelise the apples: While the chicken is simmering, cut a peeled and cored apple into wedges. Heat some butter in a new pan on medium heat. Be sure to use a pan large enough so all the wedges touch the base of the pan. If the pan is too small, work in smaller batches. Cook the apple wedges for a couple of minutes in the butter until they are golden brown and caramelised. Pour in the cream and bring to a boil. Once the cream is boiling, add the apple and cream to the chicken casserole, but only do this during the last 15 minutes of the cooking time of the chicken.
- Serve: Garnish with fresh thyme and season with salt and pepper before serving.
Frequently asked questions
To give this dish the best flavour, the chicken should be braised slowly until the meat falls off the bone. Chicken breast only needs 10-15 minutes to be ready for which the sauce cannot develop full flavour. So the best choice is chicken on the bone, but as an alternative you can use chicken breast, just don’t let the chicken breast get too dry by overcooking.
Hard apple cider can be bought in most supermarkets that offer international alcoholic beverages. Remember to buy hard cider, not the sweet one, but the dry or brut version.
Yes, you can make this dish in advance. Leave it to cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Warm on the stove top before serving.
Yes. Leave to cool and store in smaller portions in airtight containers for up to 3 months in a 3 star freezer (-18°C). Leave to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm on the stove top on low heat or in the microwave before serving.
What to serve with chicken Normandy
A French loaf, baguette or crusty bread can be served with this apple cider chicken as there is a lot of heavenly sauce to mop up. This dish also goes really well with pasta, rice and potato dishes. Serve with plain rice, like steamed basmati, or consider tagliatelle or spaghetti which are great pastas for this sauce. As for a potato dish, serve either with cooked, mashed or grilled potatoes.
More French recipes to try
- 8 chicken legs or thighs bone-in with skin
- 1 onion diced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ½ apple (golden delicious or jonagold) peeled, cored and diced
- 1 apple (golden delicious or jonagold) peeled, cored and sliced in wedges
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 2 cups (or ½ litre) apple cider
- ½ cup (or 125 ml) chicken stock
- 1 cup (or 250 ml) light cream
- 3 sage leaves
- 2 bayleaves
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme or 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- Season the chicken legs with pepper and salt to taste. Heat some oil in a large pan over medium/high heat and fry the chicken legs on all sides until golden brown. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.8 chicken legs or thighs, salt and pepper to taste, 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- Add the onion and fry for 2 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and the diced ½ apple to the onion and sauté for 2 minutes until caramelised. Add the flour and stir to coat everything. Fry for 1 minute.1 onion, 1 clove garlic, ½ apple (golden delicious or jonagold), 2 tablespoons flour
- Add the chicken, Dijong mustard, bay leaves, thyme and sage. Pour in the apple cider and chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Once it's all boiling reduce the heat to a medium/low setting and leave to simmer softly, uncovered, for 45 minutes.8 chicken legs or thighs, 2 cups (or ½ litre) apple cider, ½ cup (or 125 ml) chicken stock, 3 sage leaves, 2 bayleaves, 1 tablespoon dried thyme or 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Meanwhile in another small frying pan heat some butter on medium heat and add the apple wedges. Leave to cook for a few minutes until golden brown and caramelised. Add the cream and bring to a boil. Now add the boiled apple wedges and cream to the chicken during the last 15 minutes of the chickens cooking.1 apple (golden delicious or jonagold), 1 teaspoon butter, 1 cup (or 250 ml) light cream
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with fresh thyme.salt and pepper to taste
- Cream: I have used light cream (20% fat) but heavy cream can be used as well if you prefer.