When most of us think of Normandy, it’s the D-Day invasions that come to mind, but there’s more to Normandy than that. It’s a region with a rich history all its own, and a rich culinary tradition to go along with it. Normandy is famous for many culinary delights, including various cheeses, seafood and lamb. But today we will concern ourselves with perhaps Normandy’s most famous food item: Apples, and of course the fine apple brandy that comes from them.
Known as Calvados, the brandy is produced throughout the region, and is quite delicious. Unlike traditional brandy made from grapes, Calvados is made from the distillations of fermented apple juice. It is delicious as an apéritif or a digestif, and of course it is a great ingredient to cook with.
I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Normandy a few times, and it was there I discovered this delicious dish. I loved it then, and I think you will now.
4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
6 Strips Bacon
1/4 Cup Flour
1 Teaspoon each Salt and Pepper
1 Teaspoon Granulated Garlic
1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
1 Medium Onion, Diced
1/2 Cup Calvados
1 Cup Apple Juice or Cider
2-3 Tart Apples, Peeled, Cored and Cut into Slices
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
4 Tablespoons Butter
1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme, Chopped (or Teaspoon Dry Thyme)
Fresh Chives, Chopped, to Garnish
Fry the Bacon until crispy.
Remove bacon, crumble and reserve.
Make a blend of the salt, pepper, onion powder and granulated garlic.
Season the chicken breasts with this, then dredge them in the flour. Sauté them in the bacon grease for about four minutes a side, then place them in an oven proof dish and hold them in the oven at 375F until your sauce is ready. (The breasts will continue to cook in the oven, so keep an eye on them if you take too long to make your sauce)
Add the onions to the skillet and cook for a few minutes, until they begin to turn clear. Add the Calvados and scrape pan with a spatula to break up browned bits. Let Calvados reduce a bit, then add the apple juice or cider.
Let this reduce by half, then gather up the apples you've sliced...
...and add them to the mix. Let these cook for several minutes until they are tender,
then add the cream...
and simmer until the mixture is reduced by half. Add butter and allow to melt through.
Reduce heat and stir in the thyme.
Stir to let the thyme’s flavor permeate.
Remove the chicken from the oven and arrange on plates. Ladle the sauce over the breasts, making sure to get several apple slices on each plate. Serve immediately, garnishing with the chives and bacon.
Here we’ve served the dish with some simple roast potatoes.
Until next time,