Chicken Pieces with Cider and Caramelized Apples

Apples at market

Apples at market

By Cat, October 2016 (Photo, right, from Wikipedia)

Fall is here and apples are begging to be picked for cider and pies – or for recipes like this one. I’ve not yet tested this recipe; it’s a bit fussy but promises to be delicious.

We used to have an annual community cider press event in my small town as part of our Tamarack Time! festival, but lost use of an ingenious handmade apple grinder and press made from repurposed materials. See Apple Cider Info for an article on making your own cider (written by me for our local sustainability group, Essential Stuff Project).

The original recipe uses boneless skin-on chicken breasts, but you can use any skin-on chicken pieces. I prefer to use bone-in, skin-on for the minerals and other essential nutrients they provide. Tart apples are best for this recipe; See apple variety chart below for ideas (choose from varieties good for pies). I use apples from the MacIntosh tree in my yard.

See also: 1. Chicken Menu; 2. Brining chicken; 3. Curries & Blends menu

Chicken Pieces with Cider and Caramelized Apples

This recipe is adapted form one in our local Daily Inter Lake newspaper, originally by Susan Belasky in the Detroit Free Press (1)

The original recipe serves 6 (with 6 half-breasts); I’ve adapted it to serve 5 – 6 using all the meaty pieces of a whole chicken (breasts, wings and legs), and include a smaller version using two small half-breasts or one large half-breast cut into 2 pieces.

While the original recipe browns the chicken in butter, that requires heat that will burn the butter; instead use ghee (clarified butter), or use half butter/half coconut oil or olive oil.

Apple chart (2)

Apple Chart

Ingredients & Equipment

  • Meaty pieces of one whole chicken, bone-in and skin-on, brined (at least the breasts)
  • ¾ cup fresh-pressed apple cider
  • ¼ cup dark raisins or Zante currants
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup Madeira, Port or other sweet wine
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 1 Tbsp Chinese Five-Spice powder, divided (or more, to taste)
  • unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp butter plus 1 Tbsp coconut or olive oil (for chicken)
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter (for apples)
  • 3 large tart apples, cored and cut into 8 wedges each
  • 2 Tbsp unbleached white flour or tapioca starch
  • ¾ cup fresh-pressed apple cider (or raw apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 cups homemade chicken stock
  • ¼ cup raw, local honey
  • ½ fresh lemon (for juice)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbsp candied orange peel or grated zest of 1 orange (optional)
  • Equipment:
  • medium and 2-large bowls
  • tea kettle or saucepan for boiling water
  • two cast iron pans or heavy-bottomed, ovenproof sauté pans
  • serving platter

2-serving variation

  • one large or two small chicken half-breasts, skin-on, brined
  •  ⅓ cup fresh-pressed apple cider
  • 3 Tbsp mix of dark raisins or Zante currants, and golden raisins
  • ¼ cup Madeira, Port or other sweet wine
  • ¼ cup boiling water
  • 1 tsp Chinese Five-Spice powder, divided (or more, to taste)
  • unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp butter plus 1 tsp coconut or olive oil (for chicken)
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter (for apples)
  • 1 large tart apple, cored and cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 tsp unbleached white flour or tapioca starch
  • ⅓ cup fresh-pressed apple cider (or raw apple cider vinegar)
  • ⅔ cup homemade chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp raw, local honey
  • ¼ fresh lemon (for juice)
  • 2 tsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp candied orange peel or grated zest of ½ orange (optional)


  1. Prep: Brine chicken (or just breasts) in large bowl, then remove from brine, rinse and pat dry; set aside (or place in refrigerator until ready to use, if not using right away).
  2. Soak raisins: combine rasins/currants, wine and boiling water in a medium bowl; let stand 20 minutes or until fruit are fully plumped.
  3. Peel and core apples, reserving peels, then cut each apple lengthwise into 8 wedges; place in a large bowl of lemon water until ready to use, to keep them from browning.
  4. Season chicken with half of the Five-Spce powder, plus salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Chicken: Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425°F.
  6. Melt 3 Tbsp ghee or butter/coconut oil combo (1 Tbsp for 2-servings) in skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Add chicken pieces, skin-down – and cook util well-browned on all sides, about 5 – 7 minutes. Most of the fat will have cooked out of the skin. If using just breasts, cook about 5 minutes, skin-side down, then turn over and pour off any excess fat.
  7. Add apple peels to pan, sliding under the chicken. Place pan in oven and bake until meat is cooked through (a thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast reads 165F), about 15 – 18 minutes for breasts; longer for dark meat.
  8. Transfer pieces to serving platter, and cover to keep warm. Leave apple peels in pan.
  9. Cider sauce: Dust apple peels with flour/starch, then cook over medium heat, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add cider/vinegar and deglaze pan, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Cook to reduce liquid by half, about 5 minutes. Add stock, bring to a boil, then decrease heat to medium to simmer the liquids gently.
  10. Apples: In a second sauté pan, melt 3 Tbsp butter (1 Tbsp for 2-servings) over medium heat until it begins to brown, 2 – 3 minutes (don’t let it burn). Add apples, honey, lemon juice and remaining half of five-spice powder. Sauté apples, turning as needed, until they are caramelized to an even brown color, and are tender, 5 – 8 minutes. Season with pepper.
  11. Transfer any juice released form the resting chicken into pan with apples.
  12. Ready for serving: Rearrange chicken pieces as needed (on platter), then top with apples.
  13. Drain liquid from raisins and sprinkle raisins on top of chicken/apples.
  14. Add remaining 1 Tbsp butter (1 tsp for 2-servings) to pan with simmering liquid, and stir until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then pour through a fine-mesh sieve over chicken and apples. Garnish with parsley and optional candied orange peel or zest.


  1. recipe by Susan Belasky in the Detroit Free Press,

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