I rose the other morning to walk my dog and trudged out to the street in a sleepy haze. I noticed a gentle rain brushing against my face. I looked up through the trees at the sky and stood enthralled by it’s greyness against the fluttering green leaves of the old oaks. In my ears, Chopin’s Prelude in A major, Op 28, No 7 provided the theme for this peaceful, contented morning. I put the quiet Chopin on repeat and took in the morning as I have not in months or perhaps years.
Fall has arrived.
The night before I had taken a gamble that we would have roasting weather and marinated my chicken. I was pleased and relieved when the morning revealed my gamble had paid off. I have been wanting to test this recipe for a long time and as it is not exactly a meal for summer; it has been a painful wait.
Later, Phil and I relaxed together with cider in hand as Barney dozed lazily on the couch. With the years first roasted chicken on the way it would seem that nothing could have improved this quiet scene. That was until we learned a certain dear friend with a penchant for roasted chicken would be joining us for dinner and to say goodbye, for a little while at least.
These are the days I live for.
I have mentioned here before that I do not like to feel the summers heat. Warmth however is another thing entirely, I wrap myself in it and delight in it’s comfort. When I say warmth, I am not referring to the air blowing from the register. It is the warmth from a mug of hot brandied cider with anise, the comfort of an Aran sweater or the enveloping fragrance of a chicken roasting in the oven.
With all of the no-heat cooking I have been doing all summer, I had almost forgotten what it was like to fill your home with the scent of something delicious. By the time Leslie had arrived the scent of roasting chicken, cider and thyme had traveled out into the hallway delighting and tormenting us in our advanced state of hunger. My unpredictable oven prolonging the roasting process.
My recipe finds it’s influences in the Normandy region of France where apples and creme reign supreme. I was able to use mostly local ingredients (aside from the Sonoma creme fraiche), the gravenstein apples came from my Aunt’s orchard in North Plain, Oregon, the cider was from British Columbia with the chanterelles and chicken coming from Western Washington. I did however diverge from the local path and served the meal with a hard cider from Normandy and an organic sparkling cider from Sonoma.
The chicken was juicy and fragrant with luscious flavor and texture. The apples were barely held together and when eaten were like a savory apple sauce with a peel. The chanterelles were perfection (just ask Leslie), as they soaked up the juices and added a delicate earthy note to the dish. The sauce is on the thin side, you could reduce it further if you’d like. I wanted to lightly enrobe the chicken with the sauce instead of cloaking it. Doing so gave the chicken some well deserved time in the spotlight. I served it with a salad of baby romaine with vinagrette and shaved dry aged cheddar. We ended the meal with a vanilla bean, rum, apple and brown sugar ice cream. It was a lovely meal.
Cider Roasted Chicken with Gravensteins and Chanterelles
24 hours before you intend to roast your chicken do the following:
1 5lb Whole Organic Chicken, rinsed and placed in a large bowl
24 oz Hard Cider
4 Rather Abundant Sprigs of Thyme
1 tsp Freshly Cracked Pepper
2 tsp Sel de Mer
Add all of the ingredients to the bowl, cover and refrigerate. Flip the chicken after about 12 hours and return to the fridge. 1 hour before roasting time, remove the chicken from the marinade, drain well and pat dry. Allow the chicken to come to room temperature or somewhere thereabouts.
Note: You can use more cider if you wish to avoid flipping the chicken 12 hours in. I just can’t waste that much of the delicious libation.
12 oz. Hard Cider
1 cup Low Sodium Chicken Stock (check your freezer, I know you have some in there right?)
A few large handfuls Chanterelle Mushrooms, wiped clean and with ends trimmed
4 Tart Apples, halved, cored and sliced into thirds
1/2 tsp or so Freshly Ground Pepper
Sel de Mer or Kosher Salt
A few sprigs Thyme
Preheat your oven to 425F.
Place your well drained chicken on a roasting rack, season it lightly with salt and pepper and truss the legs. In the bottom of the roasting pan, place the cider, stock and thyme. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 20 minutes before adding the chanterelles and gravensteins. Lower the heat to 325F and set your timer for 20 more minutes to flip your bird. Baste often. The chicken should roast for around 40 more minutes or so, until your thermometer reaches 170F.
When the chicken has reached the proper temperature, remove it from the oven and allow it to rest on your carving board for 10-15 minutes covered in foil. Remove the apples and chanterelles from the pan and keep warm. Reserve the pan juices. While the chicken is resting it is time to make the sauce.
1 TBS Butter
2 Shallots, minced
1 TBS flour
All of the pan drippings
1/2 cup hard cider
1/4 tsp Freshly Ground Pepper
Pinch Sel de Mer or Kosher Salt
1/2 cup Creme Fraiche
In a small sauce pan melt the butter, saute the shallots until tender and fragrant before adding the flour and creating a roux like mixture. Deglaze your pan with the drippings, whisking well to avoid lumps before adding the cider, pepper and salt. Bring to a boil and allow the sauce to thicken before removing from the heat and stirring in the creme fraiche. Strain into a serving dish in order to remove all solids.
Carve your chicken, serve to an appreciative crowd and enjoy.
On Leftovers: With the leftovers I shredded the chicken, chopped the chanterelles and mixed in the apple to make a moist flavorful filling for ravioli and savory stuffed apples both dressed with the leftover sauce.They were both delicious ways I got creative with leftovers. I also used the carcass to make a very rich, slightly sweet stock.
* The version of this piece I have on my ipod is much slower than the one I have shared with you in the link above. In fact it is so leisurely that it lasts a full ten seconds more.
* Here is a link to an article highlighting ciders of this region.