I’m pretty excited about the newest addition to our kitchen. After much research and debate, I decided it was time to invest in a Staub dutch oven. It’s a beautiful piece of enameled cast iron French cookware arriving just in time for soup, stew and chili season and I could not be more thrilled.
What’s so special about this dutch oven is the lid that has tiny dimples on the interior that funnel evaporated liquid back onto the food, self basting anything in the pot and adding extra moisture. Staub brand cast iron ovens are also individually forged in a sand mold which means you get a tight fitting lid that keeps heat and moisture inside.
A cast iron dutch oven opens the door to so many cooking methods I was too intimated to try without the right equipment. I would have never considered braising, or searing meat and allowing it to cook in liquid until tender, until now.
So the first recipe I want to try in the Staub is cider braised chicken thighs with sweet potatoes and apples. Chicken thighs are a great alternative if you’re stuck in a breast rut. Plus, everything in this recipe cooks in one pot, which is so great.
This recipe will also work in a heavy 6-7 quart pot with a lid if you have one. You don’t necessarily need a cast iron dutch oven, but the heavy material allows for even cooking and the tight fitting lid really makes a difference in keeping the moisture inside.
This recipe starts by cooking the chicken on medium heat, just until the outside is brown. The dutch oven is perfect for searing the meat to seal in the flavor. Then, the chicken gets removed and the onions, sweet potatoes and apples get added along with raisins, sage, thyme, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. I also added a splash of balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. After about 5 minutes the braising liquid, a mix of cider and and stock, gets poured in and the chicken gets nestled back into the pot. The lid gets placed on and it goes low and slow for about an hour. The chicken ends up so tender, it’s amazing.
If you’re considering purchasing a cast iron dutch oven but don’t want to invest in one quite yet, there are alternative brands that run a little cheaper. What sold me on the Staub was the the tight fitting lid that can only come from casting a pot individually.
In all honesty, it was a little bit of an agonizing decision to spend so much on a piece of cooking equipment. But because this is a high quality piece of equipment, I know I’ll have it forever and I can pass it down to my kids someday.
Cider Braised Chicken Thighs with Apples and Sweet Potatoes
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 6 Chicken Thighs (with or without the bone and skin, whatever your preference)
- 3 Medium Onions Cut into Slices
- 2 Medium Sweet Potatoes Cut into 1/2 Inch Chunks
- 2 Apples Cut into 1/2 Inch Chunks
- 1/2 Cup Raisins
- 2 Tbsp Butter
- 6 Sage Leaves or 1 Tsp Dried Sage
- 3 Thyme Sprigs or 1 Tsp Dried Thyme
- 1 Tsp Nutmeg
- 1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
- 3/4 Cup Chicken Stock
- 3/4 Apple Cider
Heat a heavy cast iron pot on medium heat and add the olive oil. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the chicken in the bottom, skin side down if the skin is still on. Sear for 2-3 minutes then flip and sear for another 2-3 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside. The chicken should not be cooked through.
Add the butter and allow it to turn brown then add the sage. After 2 minutes, add the onions, season with salt and pepper and let soften. Add the sweet potatoes and apples along with the thyme, nutmeg, balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar.
Pour the stock and cider into the pot and return the chicken to the pot, nestling it between the vegetables. Turn the heat to low and allow to slowly simmer for an hour until the chicken is tender. Enjoy!