We’ve all heard of beer can chicken. It’s the perfect dish for recent 21-year-olds because it combines the two things we love the most: beer and chicken. Of course, this idea doesn’t actually work when you cook for people who can’t each gluten. So, you can emulate it and make something that, I think, tastes much better.
The most important part of this dish: the cider. Since I haven’t had the chance to experiment with this a whole lot, I don’t have a ton to say on the matter. I’ve tried it will Angry Orchard and with 1911 Hard Cider (I think I prefer the 1911). Now Angry Orchard is great in all since you’re cooking it anyway, but the 1911 just had more of the apple flavor that you want with this kind of dish. So personally, I think if you can get a local cider, you’ll be in business. Now if you, like me, live in upstate NY, I would suggest you use some nice Nine Pin unfiltered cider, since I didn’t have that I had to make due but that has to be the best cider I’ve had thus far.
This recipe is fairly straight-forward and has the added benefit of being a one-crockery meal. If you’re feeling lazy but want to eat something delicious and nutritious, then this is definitely something to try. The only involved part of this recipe is the prep. Once it’s in the oven, you just have to wait for it to cook and you have a lovely main dish and a side of vegetables all in one. Who could ask for anything more?
This recipe quite simply consists of chopping everything up and throwing it into a pan. The vegetables I used (mostly because it was what I had on hand) were just onions and carrots. I added apple to bring out the apple flavor in the cider but that is definitely optional (I realize that the texture of cooked apples is something some people do not enjoy). I wish I could tell you what apples I used, but I am neither an apple expert nor was I told what apples were given to us by my roommate’s mother. So, use your favorite apple, preferably a sour apple to offset the sugar in the cider. Other vegetables you can add to this would include celery, parsnips, or really any of your favorite root vegetables, they’ll all work well here and add good flavor to the chicken.
As for seasoning, I am an absolute fan of the boxed fresh herbs you can get at the store. They’re relatively cheap (it never is when it comes to buying fresh anything) and there’s just enough for me to not have a bunch of herbs left over that then sit in my fridge and go bad. Whenever I make roasted chicken, I like to go for the poultry mix: rosemary, thyme, and sage. It’s really my favorite mix of herbs for a chicken dish and they go really well with apples. If you’re not a fan of any of these, you can also use herbs like basil, parsley, or tarragon. But personally, I think the rosemary, sage, and thyme tag-team is the best.
Dried herbs will work just as well, but I cannot stress this enough: when using dried herbs, use only about half the amount you would need if you were using fresh. This recipe calls for 1/4 cup of each, if you have to use dried, then you really only need 1/8 cup of each herb if that. Normally this isn’t really that big of a problem, but herbs like rosemary can be very overpowering and ruin a dish.
I’m not photographer, mind you, so my phone camera pictures will have to do. But as you can see, I like to nuzzle the chicken into the vegetables and then sit some on top, I think it distributes the flavor better and it keeps the top of the chicken that’s not covered in liquid from drying out. Plus it kinda gives you a chance to tuck your little chicken breasts in before putting it in the oven for a nice, long, slow roast. It’s all about putting love into the food isn’t it?
Pop some foil over top of this bad boy to keep the moisture in and keep your chicken nice and moist and cook at 300°F for about 2 hours. Then you’ll get a delicious one-crockery meal that looks good too.
I mean, just look at that juicy, chicken-y goodness. I’ve compiled a more detailed recipe below for your referencing pleasure.
Cider Can Chicken
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 2 hours
- 2 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 Large onion
- 2 Garlic cloves
- 3 Carrots
- 2 Apples
- 1/4 cup Sage*
- 1/4 cup Rosemary*
- 1/4 cup Thyme*
- 2 tsp. Salt
- 2 tsp. Black pepper
- 3 Tbs. Olive oil
- ~8 oz. 1911 Hard Cider**
- 1 1/2 cup Chicken Broth
Preheat oven to 300ºF
Slice onion, carrot, and apple and throw into a roasting pan. Mince garlic and finely chop sage, rosemary, and thyme. Add to vegetables and mix. Add chicken breasts into the roasting pan and season with salt and pepper. Pour in olive oil, cider, and chicken broth and mix to coat chicken and the vegetables in the seasonings evenly. Place foil overtop the pan to keep in moisture. Place into preheated oven and let cook for 2 hours or until juices run clear. Serve.
*If substituting with dried herbs, cut this measurement in half
**Or your favorite cider. If you want this alcohol-free, replace cider with another 1/2 cup of chicken broth.