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.
Having spent over 30 snow-capped winters on their apple farm in the Ceres Valley, the Whitfields of Loxtonia Cider, have a treasure trove of family recipes to take on the chilliest of days. Original Loxtonia Crispy Apple Cider is the stealthy ingredient of their family favourite, braised chicken winter casserole.
Made on the farm from ‘orchard to bottle’ with home-grown, 100% 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.
The Whitfield family began making premium cider from their own apple orchards in 2013 as a natural progression of their fruit farming venture with father, Larry, the founder and head cider maker, and daughter, Ali, responsible for marketing.
“Watching the entire process unfold on our farm from the blossom bud turning into an apple in our orchards, to the final product of an all-natural, premium apple cider, still amazes me every season,” says Ali.
All Loxtonia ciders are gluten-free, vegan-friendly and free of preservatives and artificial additives. They are available at leading outlets countrywide. The Loxtonia tasting room in Ceres is open daily. For bookings and online purchases visit https://www.loxtonia.co.za/, email [email protected] or call Tel: 023-0040930.To stay in the mix, follow @loxtonia_cider on Instagram and Twitter.
Loxtonia Cider Braised Chicken Winter Casserole
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
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 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 stove top. 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 a good crusty bread for mopping up the sauce and a green side salad.