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Chicken Roasted with Caramelized Onions, Apples and Cheddar

By Shannon Hayes

This is a fun recipe for celebrating a great apple harvest, suited to kids and upscale company alike.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 4–5-pound chicken, cut into 8 or 10 pieces
  • 2 Tbs. coarse salt
  • 1 Tbs. ground black pepper
  • 4 Tbs. lard, tallow or butter (divided use)
  • 4 large onions, cut into thin wedges
  • 4 medium apples, halved, cored and sliced (skins can be left on)
  • 1 cup grated cheddar (or a locally available Swiss-style cheese)
  • ½ cup coarsely ground walnuts
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 4 oz. diced bacon (optional)
  • ¼ cup Calvados brandy or apple cider

What to Do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Sprinkle the chicken with the salt and pepper.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the fat in a large skillet over medium heat and, working in batches (no more than 3–4 pieces at a time to make sure there is about 1 inch of space around each piece of meat), brown the chicken well, about 3–4 minutes per side.
  4. Remove chicken as it is browned and set it aside on a platter.
  5. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of fat in the skillet. Add the onions; they should sizzle as they hit the pan, but if they sputter or splatter, lower the flame. Stir well, coating the onions in the fat and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook 2–3 minutes longer, or until the onions have given up two-thirds of their volume in water. When they start to brown, lower the flame and cook, stirring often, until they caramelize, about 15–20 minutes longer. Again, lower the heat if they start to burn.
  6. When the onions are deeply caramelized, spread them on the bottom of a greased 9×13 baking dish. Lay the apples on top. Set the chicken on the bed of apples and onions.
  7. Mix the cheese, walnuts and dried thyme in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over the chicken, dot with the optional bacon, drizzle with calvados, and bake for 40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through to an internal temperature of 165° F.

Leftovers: Leftovers can be reheated in a covered dish for 20–30 minutes at 350° F.

Serves 6

Recipe taken from Long Way on a Little: An Earth Lovers’ Companion for Enjoying Meat, Pinching Pennies and Living Deliciously, forthcoming from Shannon Hayes, Left to Write Press.

Photo credit: Tia Ohm