Normandy Chicken Casserole

40g butter
1.5Kg chicken, cut into portions
Salt and pepper
8 shallots, peeled
3 sticks celery, chopped, plus a few leaves reserved for garnish
300ml dry cider
300ml chicken stock
2 apples, cored and cut into wedges
2 tsp cornflour
5 tbsp creme fraiche
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp chopped tarragon, plus extra whole leaves to serve

Heat the oven to 190C/Gas Mark 5. Heat half of the butter on the hob in a large casserole dish and add the chicken. Cook over a high heat for 10 minutes. until browned all over, turning as needed.

Season well with salt and pepper. Add the shallots and celery, cook for a few minutes, then add the cider and stock. Bring to the boil, cover and cook in the oven for 60 minutes or until tender.

Test to see if the chicken is cooked by inserting a sharp knife or skewer, it is ready if the juices run clear.

Meanwhile, heat the rest of the butter in a non-stick frying pan and add the apple wedges. Fry on bath sides until lightly browned. Set aside and keep warm. Mix the cornflour with 2tbsp of the creme fraiche, to make a smooth paste. Lift out the chicken and keep warm. Add the cornflour mixture, the remaining creme fraiche, mustard and chopped tarragon to the casserole liquid.

Bring to a boil on the hob, and then simmer for 3 minutes, until it has thickened and is smooth.

Serve the apple wedges and sauce spooned over the chicken, and garnish with the celery and tarragon leaves. Serve with crusty bread, if you like.

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