Friday, December 2, 2011

Baked Chicken with Sausages, Apples & Onions

A great autumn blend of flavors!

When I tell people I'm making apples with onions, they turn up their nose, "Ewwww!" They don't know what they're missing. In fact, it has been one of the consistent top, all-time recipes for Kitchen Bounty.

At first, I just made this recipe with chicken, apples and onions. And it was great, but I wanted something a bit more. Pairing chicken with sausages is nothing new in Europe. And I just happened to have some sweet Italian sausage on hand, so I added a few links. It made the dish. Sometimes I serve with a simple side of noodles or savory stuffing. Either way, this is sure to be a favorite from your kitchen. And the only noses turned up will those inhaling the wonderful aroma as this bakes.

  • 1 large yellow onion peeled and sliced for a final weight of 8 oz.
  • 2 sweet apples, cored, unpeeled, and sliced for a final weight of 8 oz.
  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs (or two leg quarters), skin on
  • 2 Italian sweet sausages, cut in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seed
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme (or several pinches dried thyme flakes)
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon Cognac
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cut into fourths
  • Poultry seasoning (I use Bell's*) Buy Bells
  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F degrees.

Rinse and pat dry the chicken. Remove any extra fat or skin, if desired. Season the underside well with poultry seasoning a bit of salt and pepper. Sometimes thighs have a "hinge" of skin which I like to fold over the seasoned meat. Turn over and sprinkle tops with Old Bays. Set aside.

Slice the peeled onion into thick 1/4-inch slices and then cut the slices in half. 

Core, but do not peel the apples. Cut in half, And then cut each half into thirds. You want the slices to be a bit on the thick side. For this recipe, I used one Gala and one Golden Delicious. 

Heat just a bit of olive oil and butter in a pan. Add the onions and cook just until they begin to show color. Add just a bit of salt. It's not necessary to cook them all the way through. Add the fennel seed and apples. Stir and cook just until apples begin to take on a bit of color.

Evenly spread apple/onion mixture in a 10 x 7 dish. Add the one tablespoon of Cognac to the hot pan to deglaze and add two tablespoons of chicken stock and just a bit of butter. Simmer for a minute or two and then drizzle the mixture evenly over the apples and onions. Scatter thyme springs on top.

Place chicken thighs on top of apple mixture and tuck in sausages.

Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and skim one piece of the quartered butter over each thigh. Turn over the sausages. Return to oven for another 15 - 20 minutes, removing once to baste chicken with the juices and bake until golden brown.

Remove from oven and allow to sit a good 20 minutes or so to allow juices to settle and absorb. Serve each thigh with one sausage and a spoonful of apple/onion mixture.

Serves 2-4.

UPDATE: You can also add green cabbage to your apple and onion mixture.

NOTES: I used Johnsonville Sweet Italian sausage. I placed several julienned strips of smoked pork jowl over each thigh before baking, but I realize that is something many people may not have access to. If desired, fry two strips of bacon until crisp. Remove from pan and fry your onions in the bacon fat along with just a bit of olive oil. Crumble the bacon over the apple/onion mixture before you add the chicken. 

A note on liquor. If you're like me, you don't have a variety of "hard liquor" on hand. I buy the tiny  4 oz/50 ml bottles of liquors that I use most for cooking. They are inexpensive and handy to have. Grand Marnier, Cognac, Brandy, Rum, and Amaretto are the ones I use most.

*Bells Seasoning is a blend of rosemary, oregano, sage, ginger, marjoram, thyme and pepper. I love it. You can find it at:

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