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French Roasted Chicken With Sautéed Apples in a Fruit-Zest-Honey Sauce

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Cooking chicken thighs and fryers (which contain a high proportion of dark meat) gives this dish a rich chicken base with juicy and succulent meat. This recipe produces a huge amount of juice to baste with while it cooks. This dish's glory is amplified by adding onions, carrots, garlic, rosemary, and—of course—salt and pepper, making it even more delectable. This meal's crowning glory, however, is the wreath of sautéed apples that surrounds the chicken and in the fruity sweet sauce ladled over it—a combination of drippings, honey, vinegar, and fruit zests coming together to produce a splendid, complete, and energetic meal. It is perfect when combined with something like sautéed potatoes, a nice green salad, and some wine— although I'll freely admit that for the last element, I lack the sophistication to recommend any type!

This is an adaption of Simply French by Patricia Wells. The original recipe used duck—a whole duck, and not simply pieces—and I have access to neither individual duck pieces, nor to an entire duck. Such is the limitations of my rural location and the grocery store that exists here. Therefore, I had to make appropriate changes to suit the recipe for chicken. If desired, check out the original book to find its original recipe for duck! Also, to transfer the wine suggestion that is provided, a high quality Rhône Valley red is advanced, but I lack the knowledge of wine to be able to indicate whether this is still applicable to the recipe given the changes made.


  • 2 1/2 lb principally dark meat, composed of fryers and thighs
  • salt and pepper to apply liberally
  • 3 garlic cloaves
  • 1 carrot, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut into thick slices
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 orange, zest of
  • 1 grapefruit, zest of
  • 1 lime, zest of
  • 4 apples
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4+2 tablespoons butter


  1. Prepare the chicken first. Cut off excess fat from the chicken. Do not discard. Salt and pepper heavily. Place in a casserole dish which is capable of holding substantial amounts of juice, and place into a 425 degree F oven for 4 minutes, then turn over, and cook another 4 minutes.
  2. Remove from the oven, and place the garlic, carrot, onion, and rosemary with the chicken. Place the chicken excess fat trimmings around it if there is sufficient space or in a separate bowl if necessary. Cook for 45 minutes in a 425 degree oven, and make sure to baste with the juices several times to prevent the onions and the chicken from drying out.
  3. Remove from the oven, and allow to sit in an oven for a period of time to continue to cook and to rest.
  4. Prepare the sauce by placing the previously mentioned trimmings into a skillet over high heat, cooking for 1-2 minutes. Drain the (mostly fat) liquid in the pan, then add the honey, cook 1-2 minutes more, and deglaze with the apple cider vinegar, cooking another minute. Add 1/2 cup of water, and simmer for 5 more minutes.
  5. Prepare the zest by zesting the grapefruit, lime, and onion. Then bring a pot of water to boil, and place the zests into it for 2 minutes. Then strain them into a fine-mesh sieve, place under cold running water, drain, and set aside to dry.
  6. Strain the sauce from step 4 through a sieve, either put it into a new skillet or clean the previously used sieve, provide a hearty proportion of the cooking juices from the chicken, and then bring it to boil over high heat. Add some more vinegar if desired from taste. Don't allow it to reduce too much. Then remove from heat, add 2 tablespoons chilled butter in small patches, and mix until combined.
  7. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the apples which have been peeled, cored, and cut into slices. Cook them for 5-10 minutes, until soft.
  8. Arrange the chicken, onions, carrots, etc. on a serving platter. Place the apple slices in a wreathe around it. Then pour 1/2 of the sauce over it, and reserve the remaining amount in a sauce boat to serve with the meal.

© 2018 Ryan Thomas