One of my favourite ways to cook chicken is to braise it in the oven in a heavy pot. It comes out browned and moist and you can cook the garnishes along with it. At this time of year, apples are a perfect complement to chicken; to add some zest, I have also included hot Italian sausage and the current trendy vegetable: celery (both are superb with chicken, too). If spice isn’t to your liking, use mild sausage. And choose apples that will hold their shape and not turn to apple sauce; my preference leans toward the Gala or Pink Lady varieties, which are sweet and keep their texture. In the winter, I make this same same dish with prunes instead of apples and mushrooms instead of celery. The perfect accompaniment is sautéed Swiss chard and creamy mashed potatoes.
- 1 4-lb (2-kg) chicken, trussed
- 4 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 hot Italian sausages
- 4 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 apples, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Sprinkle chicken with 2 teaspoons tarragon, salt and pepper. Heat butter and oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or ovenproof pot large enough to hold the chicken. Brown chicken on all sides until golden (about 2 minutes a side).
Remove chicken from pot. Add sausages and cook for 2 minutes per side or until browned. Remove sausages, thickly slice on the diagonal and reserve.
Reduce heat to medium low. Add celery and apples and sauté for 2 to 4 minutes or until they begin to soften. Drain any excess fat. Add cider vinegar, chicken stock, remaining tarragon and bay leaf and bring to boil. Return chicken, sliced sausage and celery to pot, cover and bake in the oven for 1 hour. Remove cover and bake for another 15 minutes or until juices run clear. Cut chicken into four portions and serve with sausage, apples, celery and sauce.