Cider Braised Chicken Thighs With The Creamiest Cauliflower Mash
A delicious chicken recipe that comes together quickly, making it perfect for the midweek. This cider braised chicken incorporates some of my favourite things of the Fall season - apples and apple cider! I can always use another chicken recipe and I wanted one that would incorporate those Fall ingredients.
This is the one I found and love from Canadian Living. There a quite a few out there but this was by far my favourite as it’s one of the easiest and with the most minimal ingredient list. I changed up a few small things according to my taste but the basic structure of this meal is the same across the board from what I have searched and found when it comes to braised chicken in cider.
The original recipe called for serving this dish with smashed potatoes which would be equally as delicious as this cauliflower mash but I had just purchased cauliflower and thought it would be great to make the mash. The gravy or sauce from the chicken and apples was sooo good and went well with the cauliflower mash but would be wonderful with any mash and even over rice if you wanted a different option.
I used the pre packaged cauliflower rice because it was handy and quick but the recipe below describes how to prep cauliflower rice from a head of cauliflower. I was on a time frame and needed to make dinner as quickly as possible and the prepackaged stuff worked perfectly. You can even use frozen cauliflower but you may have to knock off a minute or two from the cooking time as it will get tender slightly faster than fresh as frozen is usually cooked slightly before it’s frozen.
I have also learned that sautéing the cauliflower rice before cooking it not only adds extra flavour to it but also helps it boil faster once the water is added to the pot. You want to use just enough water to cover the cauliflower when cooking so that the cauliflower doesn’t get soggy. Most of the water will cook off during the process but you will have to drain the rest off, reserving a little to drizzle in and loosen up the mash while you mash, blend or process the cauliflower. Instead of the cooking water you could add in whole milk or cream but that isn’t necessary for a creamy cauliflower mash. It can be added for extra flavour though.
You don’t have to worry about over mashing the cauliflower- it doesn’t behave the same way as potatoes. They stay creamy and become creamier the more you mash them or process them, unlike potatoes that can get sort of gummy if over mashed. If you have never tried making cauliflower mash, I strongly recommend it. You will be surprised at how smooth and delicious it is with very little add ins.
This was a hit with my family and I was happy to add another delicious chicken recipe to the list of ones I have and love to make especially when you want a quick and easy dinner. Thighs cook up quicker than breasts that is why I chose them in this recipe and they are by far more flavourful than breast meat - that’s what I think anyways. If you’re a fan of apples in savoury dishes you will love this and if you aren’t or have never had them in anything savoury you are missing out and hope you give this recipe a try!
For the chicken
- 6 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs (about 450 g total)
- ½ tsp each salt and pepper
- 3 tsps olive oil
- 2 tbsp of butter
- 3 Gala apples, cored and cut in ½-inch thick wedges
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ cup dry hard cider (apple cider or apple juice can be substituted to make it non alcoholic)
- ¾ cups sodium-reduced chicken broth
- 2 tsps Dijon mustard
- 2 tsps all-purpose flour (can substitute with and alternative thickening agent for GF)
- Sprinkle chicken with ¼ tsp each of the salt and pepper.
- In Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat one tsp of olive oil and the butter over medium-high heat; cook chicken, turning once, until well browned, about 6 minutes.
- Transfer to plate. Set aside.
- In same pan, heat another tsp of oil and remaining one tbsp of butter over medium-high heat; add and cook apples, turning once, until golden, about 2 minutes.
- Transfer to separate plate. Set aside.
- In same pan, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat; cook onion, garlic and thyme, and bay leaf, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes.
- Pour in cider; cook, scraping up browned bits, until slightly reduced, about 1 minute.
- Stir in broth, mustard and remaining salt and pepper; bring to boil.
- Add chicken and any accumulated juices.
- Reduce heat, cover and simmer until juices run clear when chicken is pierced, about 18 minutes.
- Transfer chicken to clean plate. Discard thyme.
- Whisk flour with 1 tbsp water; add to sauce and cook, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in apples.
- Serve chicken and apples in sauce over cauliflower mash (recipe below).
For the cauliflower mash
- 2 (16-ounce) packages riced cauliflower, or 1 large head cauliflower (about 3 pounds)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter plus extra for serving
- 2 cups water
- 1 tsp kosher salt and cracked black pepper to serve
- Finely chop the cauliflower (for whole cauliflower only).
- Halve the cauliflower through the stem.
- Cut a “V” shape around the core to remove the core from each half.
- Finely chop the cauliflower. The smaller the pieces, the faster the cauliflower will cook and the creamier the finished dish will be.
- Melt the butter in a medium sized pot over medium-high heat.
- Add the cauliflower and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower has lightened in color, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the water and salt and bring to a boil.
- Cover and cook until the cauliflower is tender, about 10 minutes.
- Reserve ¼ cup of the cooking liquid and then drain the cauliflower.
- Place the drained cauliflower and reserved cooking liquid back in the pot.
- Mash using an immersion blender to desired consistency or transfer it to a food processor and process until smooth.
- Serve hot.