The idea was to celebrate my birthday and the changing of the seasons with a proper fall favourite: a hearty dish combining chicken, sausages, sweet dried prunes and tart apples in a tangy sauce. The kind of thing one enjoys over buttery mashed potatoes with a salad of fall greens. While wearing a sweater.
Nature, however, had other ideas. Instead of a clean crisp fall day, my birthday was a hot and muggy, with a wild wind that blew in like a desert sirocco late in the afternoon. Windows were pulled open, fans positioned and menu revisions pondered. But I was in too deep: I had ridden all the way to Kensington for sausages.
There was no going back.
Chicken with sausage, prunes and apples (adapted from The New Basics cookbook)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, cut into ½ inch slices
- 2 pounds chicken pieces (I’m a leg man, myself)
- 7 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ¾ cup chicken stock
- ¾ cup dry white wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 cup pitted prunes, halved
- 10 cloves garlic, halved lengthwise
- 1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 large Granny Smith (or other tart variety) apples, cored, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole or dutch oven, and brown sausage in small batches over medium heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove the sausage and set aside.
- Brown the chicken pieces in the casserole until golden, and set them aside with the sausage. Pour off most of the fat. Add 4 1/2 tablespoons of the vinegar to the casserole, and bring to a boil over medium heat, scraping up any brown bits. Then add the stock, wine, bay leaf, thyme and salt and pepper. Cook 1 minute.
- Add the prunes and garlic to the casserole, and cook 1 minute. Then return the sausage and chicken, mix them gently with the sauce, and cover the casserole. Transfer it to the oven, and bake for 40 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken, sausage and prunes to a heated serving platter and keep warm. Add the mustard and the remaining 3 tablespoons vinegar to the casserole and whisk well. Add the apples and cook over medium-low heat until the apples and garlic are just tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Return chicken and sausages to the pot and serve with parsley.