Cider-Braised Chicken With Cabbage And Thyme Recipe

When it comes to comfort food, few things consistently deliver like a good braised dish. The slow simmer doesn't just yield tender meat and vegetables but deeply infuses the flavors of each ingredient into the rest of the dish. While there is a bit of work up front, once everything is in the pot, it's a hands-off cook. You can just sit back and enjoy the wonderful aromas wafting throughout the house, whetting your appetite for the meal to come.

This recipe is centered around the humble, bone-in chicken thigh. It's a cut often overlooked at the supermarket, but it's a powerhouse of flavor and texture when properly prepared. By searing the chicken early in the cooking process, we not only create a delightfully crisp skin but also render chicken fat in which to cook the vegetables. Onions, garlic, and cabbage are cooked down in the chicken fat, imparting a luxuriant richness to the dish, which is in turn balanced with the sweetness of apple cider. Gilded with a bit of thyme and black pepper, this creates a wonderful platform on which to braise the chicken. As it all cooks down, the juices from the chicken combine with the sweet cider, fragrant herbs, and aromatic vegetables to produce a rich and nuanced sauce — the sort of sauce so good that you might just find yourself grabbing a second helping of bread to soak it up.

Gather the cider-braised chicken ingredients

For this recipe, you will need bone-in chicken thighs, apple cider, chicken bouillon, onion, cabbage, garlic, thyme, and black pepper. Once you've gathered these ingredients and done a bit of chopping, you are ready to cook.

Step 1: Heat the pan

Bring a large, heavy pan with a lid to medium-high heat and add the oil.

Step 2: Brown the skin

Salt the chicken thighs and place them in the pan skin-side down. Brown for 4–5 minutes, until the skin is crisp.

Step 3: Flip the chicken thighs

Flip the chicken thighs, cook the other side for 4–5 minutes, then remove them to a plate.

Step 4: Caramelize the onions

Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes, until the onions smell nicely caramelized and the edges turn brown.

Step 5: Cook the cabbage and garlic

Add the cabbage and garlic and mix together well. Cook for 5 minutes.

Step 6: Add the cider

Pour over the cider and add the bouillon, thyme, and pepper. Stir together.

Step 7: Simmer

Reduce heat to medium, return the chicken thighs to the pan, and simmer uncovered for 30–40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and most of the liquid has evaporated.

Step 8: Adjust seasoning

Remove from heat and add salt to taste.

Step 9: Serve

Serve hot with mashed potatoes and/or crusty bread.

Can I use dried thyme instead of fresh in this cider-braised chicken?

Dried thyme can certainly be substituted for its fresh counterpart when necessary, but it is not as simple as a one-to-one swap. Fresh herbs and dried herbs impart different flavors with different potencies, so you must always be careful when swapping them.

In most cases, it is preferable to use fresh herbs. Fresh herbs are more complex in flavor due to the presence of a wider variety of flavor compounds. As an herb is dried, some of these volatile compounds are lost, creating what, by comparison, can be a somewhat flat flavor. Think of it like vanilla extract versus imitation vanilla extract. Imitation vanilla extract contains only vanillin, one of as many as 250 flavor compounds in the vanilla bean. Vanillin is the primary flavor in vanilla, so it does a decent job of providing that familiar flavor, but it is very much a one-note flavor without those other compounds. 

The difference between fresh thyme and dried thyme is not quite so extreme, but there are still advantages to using the fresh ingredient. That said, if you don't have access to it, or simply don't want to make another trip to the market, dried thyme will work just fine. While the flavor is less complex, the reduced water content does mean that dried herbs are more potent. A good rule of thumb when subbing in dried herbs is to use half the quantity called for in the recipe.

How should I store leftover braised chicken?

Once the meal is over, if you haven't polished off every last bit, it is important to properly store any leftovers. Once they have cooled, transfer leftovers to an airtight container and place them in the refrigerator. Stored properly, cooked chicken will keep in the fridge for three to four days. If you intend to keep leftovers any longer than that, they should be frozen. The same airtight container you would use to store leftovers in the refrigerator will work in the freezer for the short-term, but it is best to store leftovers tightly wrapped to avoid freezer burn. For maximum efficiency, frozen leftovers can be sealed in a zip-top plastic bag and laid flat in the freezer.

To reheat, simply return the chicken and vegetables to a skillet on the stove and simmer over medium-low heat until warmed all the way through. Reheating will cook off some of the moisture in the sauce, so you may wish to add a bit of water or a bit more apple cider when reheating. This will ensure that it warms evenly and doesn't stick to the pan. Of course, you can also just toss the leftovers in the microwave to warm them, though the skin will likely lose some of its crispiness if heated this way.

Cider-Braised Chicken With Cabbage And Thyme Recipe
5 from 33 ratings
This cider-braised chicken with cabbage and thyme will fill your kitchen with autumnal scents as the crispy-skinned chicken cooks out in the flavorful broth.
Prep Time
5
minutes
Cook Time
50
minutes
Servings
4
Servings
pan and plates of braised chicken
Total time: 55 minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1 small (2-pound) cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Salt, to taste
Directions
  1. Bring a large, heavy pan with a lid to medium-high heat and add the olive oil.
  2. Salt the chicken thighs and place them in the pan skin-side down. Brown for 4–5 minutes, until the skin is crisp.
  3. Flip the chicken thighs, cook the other side for 4–5 minutes, then remove them to a plate.
  4. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4–5 minutes, until the onions smell nicely caramelized and the edges turn brown.
  5. Add the cabbage and garlic and mix together well. Cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Pour over the cider and add the bouillon, thyme, and pepper. Stir together.
  7. Reduce heat to medium, return the chicken thighs to the pan, and simmer uncovered for 30–40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and most of the liquid has evaporated.
  8. Remove from heat and add salt to taste.
  9. Serve hot with mashed potatoes and/or crusty bread.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 613
Total Fat 44.6 g
Saturated Fat 11.2 g
Trans Fat 0.2 g
Cholesterol 222.3 mg
Total Carbohydrates 13.0 g
Dietary Fiber 1.2 g
Total Sugars 7.7 g
Sodium 794.4 mg
Protein 38.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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