Normandy, France usually conjures thoughts of Joan of Arc and WWII’s D-Day landing. But it’s also the home of many classic dishes, including Chicken Normandy (Poulet à la Normande).
Sometime in the mid-1990’s after a trip to France, I tried my hand at a number of French entrées, including Chicken Normandy. The traditional version includes cream and sometimes mushrooms. My version omits both but it’s just as complex, and lighter.
Oddly enough, I discovered this recipe from the National Broiler Council (Now the National Chicken Council) which was included in marketing materials to help promote the Tour du France. I’d made it so many times I stopped looking at the recipe. That’s when taste buds took over and I switched to what tasted good to me, not the exact recipe.
Out of curiosity, I looked back at the recipe and noticed that over time I had made several changes. Notably, I made it less sweet for my tastes by increasing the vinegar, reducing the cider, and adjusting seasonings and baking times.
For my version of Chicken Normandy, I use chicken breasts because they have less fat. However, this dish may be made with thighs and legs, if you prefer, for a deeper flavor. Just increase baking time by approximately 10 minutes. Reach 165F (74C) for dark meat as supposed to 160F (71C) for breasts.
Here’s the recipe:
Chicken Normandy (Poulet à la Normande)
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher (not table) salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut in half to make 8 pieces if you prefer)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium yellow or white onion, sliced thinly
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger root
- 2 Granny Smith or other firm baking apples, cored, and sliced into 12 wedges each
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup unfiltered apple cider
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- Pre-heat oven to 350F (177C)
- In a flat dish, combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine
- Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt over the chicken. Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture. Shake off any excess flour
- In a large sauté pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat
- Add the chicken breasts and sauté for approximately 2 minutes on each side until golden, then place the chicken in one layer into a baking (casserole) dish
- In the same sauté pan, add the onions, garlic and ginger. Sauté for 3 minutes
- Add the sliced apples, cider, cider vinegar and brown sugar to the sauté pan. Stir and simmer for 5 minutes
- Evenly pour the apple-onion mixture with all the liquid over the chicken. Bake for 25-30 minutes uncovered. Test with a thermometer. When the center of each chicken breast reaches 160F (71C), it is done. If you prefer legs or thighs, bake until the temperature reaches 165F (74C), which may take an extra 10 minutes baking time
- Remove the chicken, apples and onion to individual plates or a platter. Pour the sauce over the chicken. (If the sauce needs to be thickened, return the liquid to the sauté pan and bring to a quick boil and rapidly whisk in 2 teaspoons of flour until you reach the desired thickness.)
*Don’t be alarmed at the strong smell vinegar. The smell and taste dissipate when baking.