Chicken Normandy

The Normandy region of France, which is North of Paris and lines the English channel, is known for its cream, butter, cheeses, apples, and apple brandy. In this version of Chicken Normandy, or chicken à la normande, we are braising whole chicken legs in apple cider and brandy, and serving them with a sauce made with cooked apples, onions, and cream.

Just the thing for the fall.

We’re using whole chicken legs because the flavor is richer, and the dark meat holds up better to long braising. But you could just as easily use chicken breasts. You can also serve this classic combination of apples, brandy, and cream with other proteins, such as mussels (moules à la normande) or pork.

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Chicken Normandy Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4.

In this recipe we brown the chicken on the stovetop, then braise the chicken in the oven, and then finish on the stovetop. You can make the whole dish on the stovetop if you wish. In step 6 just simmer the chicken on the stovetop (uncovered if skin-on, covered if using skinless chicken pieces), until cooked through and tender, 15-30 minutes. The reason to do it in the oven is to produce a crispy skin.

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cooking apples (Fuji or Jonagold are perfect for this dish, do NOT use a red delicious), cored and sliced into wedges (you can peel or not)
  • Flour for dredging
  • 4 whole chicken legs (with thighs)
  • Salt
  • 1 large onion, peeled, sliced lengthwise (root to top) into wedges
  • 1/2 cup brandy (apple brandy or Calvados if you have it)
  • 2 cups apple cider (the cloudy type)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup cream

Method

1 Sprinkle salt over the chicken pieces and let sit for 20 minutes at room temperature.

chicken-normandy-1.jpg

2 Preheat the oven to 375°F. Heat 2 Tbsp of the butter in a large, oven-proof sauté pan over medium heat. Add the apple slices and sauté until they turn a little brown around the edges, turning occasionally. Sprinkle the apple slices with a little salt. Set aside on paper towels to drain.

chicken-normandy-2.jpg chicken-normandy-3.jpg

3 Dredge the chicken in flour and place the pieces in the sauté pan, skin side down. Add the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter. Fry until golden, about 3-5 minutes on medium to medium-high heat on each side. Remove from pan and set aside.

4 Add the onions and increase the heat to medium-high. Spread the onion slices out in an even layer to cover the pan. As the onions cook they will release moisture that will help deglaze the pan of the browned bits from the chicken. Sauté the onions, stirring occasionally, until they just being to brown, about 5-8 minutes.

chicken-normandy-4.jpg chicken-normandy-5.jpg

5 Add the brandy to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape any remaining browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Let the brandy boil until it has reduced by about half. Add the cider and bring it to a boil.

chicken-normandy-6.jpg

6 Sprinkle in the thyme. Add just a pinch of salt to the cider. Arrange the chicken legs in the pan so the skin faces up and is not submerged by the cider-brandy mixture. Place in the oven and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

chicken-normandy-7.jpg chicken-normandy-8.jpg

7 Remove the pan from the oven. (Watch out for the hot handle! I like to run an ice cube over the handle as soon as I remove the pan, to help bring the handle temp down quickly and prevent a bad burn if I forget the handle is hot.) Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and set aside. Place the pan back on a stovetop burner on high heat. Add the apples and boil down the sauce by half.

chicken-normandy-9.jpg chicken-normandy-10.jpg

8 When the sauce reduces to the point where it's a little syrupy, add the cream and turn down the heat. Taste for salt and add some if needed.

To serve, spoon some apples and onions on the plate, top with sauce and a piece of chicken.

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Links:

Poulet à la Normande from the New York Times
Normandy Guinea Fowl from Not Quite Nigella
Cider roasted chicken with gravensteins and chanterelles - from the Endive Chronicles
Apple and pecan stuffed chicken breast in creamy cider sauce from The Passionate Cook
Dorie Greenspan has a lovely version of this dish using chicken breasts and mushrooms in her new book, Around My French Table.

57 Comments

  1. jonathan

    Beautiful. And if my middle-aged eyes still serve me well at 7 AM (EST)…are those Haricot verts you paired this with? Totally diggin’ everything on that plate, and another gorgeous photo to boot.

    Oui Jonathan! Bien sur. Haricot verts. And now you’ve reached the limits of my French. ;-) ~Elise

  2. Lisa_S

    If you don’t eat chicken skin, should you just do the whole thing on the stove? Chicken skin repulses me and I won’t eat it.

    Yes, you can do the whole thing on the stovetop. ~Elise

  3. Kevin Hunt

    Any suggestions for a cream substitute (for us lactose intolerant, this dish would be painful)?

    Chicken Normandy requires cream. That’s really what makes it Normandy-style. That said, if you just thickened the pan juices with a little flour and made a gravy, it would still be good. ~Elise

  4. Guy

    Simplement délicieux a voir mais aussi un délice à manger. Simply delicious to see as well as to eat. Well done Elise you are a good cook and photographer. I get hungry every time I see your web page and recipes.

  5. Bruce

    I think I’ll try this later this week. Yum!

    Also, I usually slip an oven mitt over the handle of the pan when I remove it from the oven. I like the ice-cube trick though!

  6. Joanna

    Anything on the mussels would be appreciated. Thanks.

    You and me both. I haven’t attempted a Normandy version of mussels yet, I only know that it is done. You might want to take a look at Garrett’s Coconut Curry Mussels for some ideas. ~Elise

  7. Elise Lafosse

    Hi Elise, This looks so good and am planning to make it this weekend. I even have leftover Calvados. Three questions. 1. Hopefully Calvados lasts awhile? I think it is over a year old. 2.I plan to use only 2 whole chicken legs, should I halve the sauce or keep it the same? I am inclined to keep it the same. 3. Lastly, I am not sure I have an ovenproof saucepan…can I use a Dutch Oven you think? Would there be enough room? Maybe I can drum up some saucepan that would work in an oven. Thanks again for another wonderful recipe. Will also be having your pork tenderloin with figs next week too! Elise

    Hi Elise! I’m assuming Calvados lasts a while as it’s a spirit with a high alcohol content. I would keep the sauce amount the same only because I love the sauce and you can use it over rice if you have extra. A Dutch oven will work, especially if you are only doing two legs. ~Elise

  8. Camilla

    What a beautiful dish! I love the contrast of the golden chicken with the bright green beans. I also love anything that can be made in one pan.

    Thanks Camilla. I have to say I love the photos you shot when you made the dish. Gorgeous! ~Elise

  9. Susan

    This looks great, perfect for Fall. Do you think you could substitute light sour cream for the heavy cream for a lighter version?

    Don’t know. Sometimes substitutions like this end up a curdled mess, so I usually stick with cream. If you try it please let us know how it turns out for you. ~Elise

  10. Jason

    Would this recipe work with the stronger flavor of duck or lamb – or are chicken and pork better because they don’t overpower the sauce?

    Hank has made a version of this with pheasant. I think it would be excellent with duck. Don’t know about lamb, but maybe if you add some rosemary to the sauce it would work. ~Elise

  11. joannenicole

    One of my absolute favourite recipes in the world is a braised chicken dish. I would happily eat it as my “Last meal”. Replace the apples with carrots, and the cream with balsamic vinegar in this recipe, throw in a TON of blanched garlic, and you have my braised chicken dish. Amazing. This sounds pretty fabulous too though, I’ll have to give it a try!

    Oh, and thank you for the tip about the ice-cube on the handle of the hot pan…I severely burned my hand earlier this year when I forgot that I had just taken the pan out of the oven. But you know – it was so delicious, it was almost worth the burn!

  12. Nicolette

    That looks extremely yummy. I think the tot and I are going to have chicken for supper some night this week. (Toddlers need extra fat in their diet, right?)

    I have some home-grown butternut squash that I need to use up too. Roasted squash would add a nice splash of colour here, I think.

    Any idea of how much of the alcohol in the brandy will cook off? I might sub out half of the liqueur for more apple cider or some chicken stock, just in case.

    Most, but not all of the alcohol will cook off. ~Elise

  13. Jamie

    Is there anything you would suggest as a substitute for the onions? I am allergic, but this recipe looks amazing.

    Leeks? White parts only. Otherwise just leave them out. ~Elise

  14. bookwormbethie

    thanks for a great recipe, i’ve been following this blog for quite some time now and have made some tasty dishes, but this is my first comment!

    just want to make sure i am understanding this recipe correctly…when the apples are cooked and set aside in step 2, it seems they are NOT added back into the pan that goes into the oven in step 6??? if so, why is this? won’t the apples discolor if they are left sitting out?

    They won’t discolor, they’ll be fine. They are already mostly cooked. You don’t want to put them in the oven because they will overcook. ~Elise

  15. Bert

    Wonderful dish. The whole kitchen smells of apples, cider and Calvados. I followed the recipe precisely including grabbing the hot pan handle as directed. Ouch!

  16. Ingrid

    This was utterly and totally delicious. I have been thinking of trying it out with some raisins or even dried cranberries as well. My husband commented “oh no, you will have to make this quite often to try all that stuff out. Poor little me!” So: THANKS, from the both of us :-)

    Kevin, there are quite a lot of dairy substitutions out there, usually based on soy milk (but also based on rice, oat or almond milk). The soy cream alternative will work fine with this and the flavour should still come out OK.

  17. jill

    I made it yesterday, it was wonderful! Yummy, will definitely make again. I substituted boneless skinless thighs (6) and 2 chicken breasts for those that like white meat. Did it all on the stovetop. The sauce was amazing. I even liked it before the cream was added and would think about doing it that way for those that cannot have dairy. A definite winner. Felt like I was in a 5 star restaurant. Thanks so much. Served it with French Green Beans and Brown Rice mixed with Quinoa

  18. Jeff Whitmill

    We made this evening – fabulous! And very easy.

    We used chicken breasts, cut in half cutlet-style – it was what we had on hand. And the next time we make it, I think we’ll do 1/2 again as much on everything in the sauce.

    It’s delicious!

  19. Jayne

    Tasty looking dish, esp when hubby loves braised chicken thighs :-). That said, how may I substitute the alcohol? Will broth do the trick?

    I would just use more apple cider. ~Elise

  20. Tom

    I made this last night for my wife and she loved it. Great twist on chicken and apples. They go great together. She says “it’s a keeper”!

  21. Dhruv

    Elise,

    I am a long time reader and fan, but this is my first comment/question.

    If I may ask a few naive questions:
    1. The quick question: I do not have brandy at home, but I do have apple cider and sherry. Would those do?

    2. The perhaps not so quick question: why do we add brandy here? How does that help?

    Hi Dhruv, great questions. You can use just apple cider if you don’t have brandy. The traditional dish calls for brandy, preferably apple brandy, but if you don’t have it, you don’t have it. It will still be good. You can try adding a little sherry to see if you like the taste. I haven’t tried it that way. As to why you add brandy? It adds a taste dimension to the dish that’s good. ~Elise

  22. Camilla

    I just made this last night, with hard cider (no brandy handy). Absolutely delicious. Thanks for a great recipe!

  23. Grace EG

    I made this for dinner tonight, but used a very dry white wine instead of brandy. It was so good! Definitely saving this recipe for next Autumn!

  24. Shannon

    This recipe is as delicious as it looks! The flavors of the brandy, apples and onions go together very well. To the side of green beans, I added some coarsely mashed red potatoes (skins on). So good!!

  25. Merry

    Made this tonight and it was delicious. My husband called it “restaurant quality”. I used cortland apples that we picked yesterday.

  26. Justin

    Just made this for dinner this evening. It was an A+ fantastic and delicious dish! Can’t wait to make it again.

  27. Carolyn

    I made this on Sunday for my Mom’s birthday and got RAVE reviews…. age range for those reviews was 5 years old to 66 years old. Everyone loved it. I used both legs and chicken breasts. I didn’t have apple brandy so I replaced the brandy with more cider. Absolutely delicious. I will make this again and again. I think I will also try it with pork chops! I served it with a butternut squash recipe from allrecipes.com (cheese, onions, and squash – heavenly), and mushroom risotto. GREAT meal.

  28. Michelle

    I only comment on outstanding recipes. This dish is delicious. I used bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts and it came out beautifully. My husband loved it and keeps saying so. Good one!

  29. Kali

    How sweet is this? I’m not a huge fan of “sweet” meat. But the cider and brandy make me wonder if that flavor really comes through.

    It looks great and I would love to try it… just afraid!

    Not so sweet, but you are cooking apples and using apple cider. Nice balance to the savory of the chicken and onions. ~Elise

  30. Matt

    amazing. made it tonight for my wife and she loved it! I have leftovers for tomorrows lunch too!

  31. Jessica H

    Made this last night with sides of scalloped potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts. The Brussels balanced the sauce perfectly!

  32. Reggie Doobar

    Pohanks!, I remember working a farm in Normandy and seeing this served regularly! I couldn’t have none at the time, but I sure do like it now. Just wish I could afford the really good chicken and not the danged Manager’s marked-down “special” chicken.

  33. Eric

    Made this tonight for a Sweetest Day dinner and it came out great! He loved it and it was a great sucess! Definitely a keeper!

  34. Teresa

    I made this tonight for my parents and we LOVED it. My mom bought organic apple juice because she couldn’t find “cloudy” apple cider, but it still tasted awesome. Tres delicieux! Merci pour la recette.

    De rien Teresa! ~Elise

  35. Allen

    Thank you, Ms. Bauer! Chicken Normandy was most excellent and fun to make.

  36. Jackie

    Great recipe! I made it with Jonagolds and left the peel on. So pretty… I skinned chicken thighs and cooked on the stovetop start to finish. So easy, yet lightly browned and very juicy. Sure your pictures are beautiful, but I really like the way you WRITE your recipes – clear and concise. I’m amazed how easy these dishes are.

  37. Elise Lafosse

    Hi Elise, I made this recipe this last Saturday and my husband loved it and he is French of origin and particular about his food! So we will definitely be making this again. Thank you so much for another great recipe. Elise

  38. Sara

    We made this for a dinner party and it was a hit. The flavors were great.

  39. Michael

    This dish is phenomenal! I made it with breasts rather than legs/thighs, and I added more butter. Otherwise, I followed the recipe as is. I am definitely adding this one to my repertoire. It is the essence of what a delicious autumn dish should include. Wonderful!

  40. Rita

    Have been looking for THE Chicken Normandy recipe for years. This is it!

    Merci!

  41. Kristal

    Elise, do you mean nonalcoholic apple cider? Trader Joe’s has a nice spiced one — would that do?

    Yes, a non-alcoholic apple cider. The one at TJ’s will be fine. ~Elise

  42. Maria

    I just made this recipe today and it is so goood!!!! I didn’t use brandy but i used like half a cup more to a cup more apple cider. I also used drumsticks and chicken breats and Gala apples. it came out delicious! Will def do it again.

  43. Ann

    This was unbelievably simple to make, and unbelievably good! I think I licked the last of the sauce off the plate. I paired with with some grilled asparagus (a real indulgence this time of year), and any simple, green veggie would work great. Don’t need a starch at all. This one goes into my regular rotation. (One change: I don’t like drumsticks, so I stuck with 8 smallish chicken thighs.)

  44. Kate

    Loved this!

  45. Sonia - L'Exquisit

    I just made this recipe and was delicious! Thank you!

  46. Maureen Christopher

    This was incredible! I didn’t have the Calvados brandy, just used E&J and it was still delicious. Used boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into bite size pieces as I was hosting a house concert and wanted something for the folks that showed up early to help set up chairs etc. I wanted something simple we could eat with a fork and go. Everyone raved about the meal. Thank you for sharing these wonderful recipes!

  47. Ben

    I’ve been making this a lot lately, but totally spaced when preparing for a friend and burned my hand. Ouch! Also, can’t seem to find Calvados, but was wondering about Laird’s Applejack Brandy. Sounds like a good substitute. What do you think?

    Yes, applejack would be a fine substitute. ~Elise

  48. daniella

    Sounds amazing but I am trying to lose weight. Would light cream or fat free half and half work?

    With a quarter cup of butter and a half cup of cream, this recipe is not exactly dietetic. You could try it with half and half, or just use a recipe without cream like baked chicken. Serve with some caramelized onions and sautéed apple slices. ~Elise

  49. Jenya

    I’m so glad to have discovered this blog! This is the first dish that I have made from here… wow. I’ve now made it twice and both times it was outstanding! I was having some wine while cooking the first time and burned my hand so bad! Needless to say it was a good lesson learned and I will always cover the handle with a towel after it comes out of the oven. I look forward to trying many more of the delicious recipes from here.

  50. Mindy

    This was absolutely fantastic! I even served it as leftovers to guests, and they raved!

  51. Ari

    Possibly one of the best recipes I have ever made!!

  52. Emiko

    I made this last night with Liberty apples (a variety I got while apple picking) and thighs (with bones and skin). It was amazing. We found the chicken just okay, but the apples and onions with the sauce was amazing. Every last drop of sauce was gobbled up. I think next time I’ll try it with pork.

  53. J.LOUISE

    This dish is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

    Thank you. Hey, thank you.

  54. george

    Great and delicious recipe can I use something else instead of the green beans, like potatoes or something else?

  55. April

    Sounds delicious!! We are on a grain-free diet, do you have any suggestions for substitutions for the flour for dredging? :-)

  56. Susan McCoy

    We were served this in Arromanche, France last week when we toured the DDay beaches. delicious! I made this at home last night. I even bought some butter that was made in Normandy! I skipped the apples and brandy and used just cider. Wonderful! I also made some fried potatoes,French bread and salad!

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