Cooking up a storm and tucking into a time-honoured family recipe is what winter comfort food is all about … especially when the dish is enriched with a premium apple cider.
Loxtonia Cider braised chicken casserole
You’ll need: 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs; 2 fennel bulbs, sliced; 4 shallots, sliced; 4 cloves garlic, finely minced; a large handful/ bunch fresh sage leaves; 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar; 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard; 340ml Loxtonia Crispy Apple Cider; 2 green apples, sliced; 125ml fresh cream; ½ bunch Tuscan kale, stemmed & roughly chopped; salt and black pepper, to taste; olive oil
Preheat oven to 180˚C.
Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large Dutch oven, buffet casserole or cast-iron skillet. Pat the chicken thighs dry with a paper towel and season with salt.
Sear the chicken thighs skin-side down, until the skin is golden brown. Flip and cook until lightly browned on the underside.
Set chicken pieces aside on a tray. Add the sliced fennel to the pan with the residual chicken fat and cook until lightly golden on the edges. Remove from the pan and set aside next to the chicken.
If you need to – add a fresh drizzle of olive oil to the pan. Add the sliced shallots and sage leaves. Season. Cook until the shallots soften and begin to take on some colour. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
Add the apple cider vinegar, mustard and Loxtonia Cider. Stir everything together and bring to a simmer.
Add the fennel and the chicken back into the pan and nestle it in the sauce. Dot the apples around the dish.
Transfer to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the chicken thighs are cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a clean plate or baking tray (you can keep the chicken warm in the oven during the next step – or crisp up the skin under the grill).
Bring the braise to a gentle simmer on the stovetop. Add the kale and cream. Stir until the kale is wilted and the sauce has reduced slightly.
Taste for seasoning. Return the chicken to the pan for serving family-style.
Serve with good crusty bread for mopping up the sauce and a green side salad.
Made on the farm from ‘orchard to bottle’ with home-grown, 100 per cent freshly pressed and naturally fermented apples, Loxtonia Crispy Apple Cider deepens the flavours without loading the calories of this hearty casserole. This refreshingly fruity cider has just 58 calories per 340ml bottle. All Loxtonia ciders are gluten-free, vegan-friendly and free of preservatives and artificial additives. Available at leading liquor stores, or online at www.loxtonia.co.za.