Normandy-Style Chicken and Leeks with Creme Fraiche

vegetable book
Photo: Ngoc Minh Ngo

Leeks grow in abundance in Normandy, in northern France, where the alliums are celebrated for their ability to transform even the simplest dish into something spectacular. Take chicken Normande, a multi-layered main course of braised chicken, hard apple cider (another local specialty), and of course, leeks. Serve this with crusty bread. This recipe appears in our cookbook "Martha Stewart's Vegetables" (Clarkson Potter).


  • 1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds), cut into 10 pieces (each breast half cut in half crosswise)

  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

  • 4 small leeks (white and pale-green parts only), cut crosswise into 3-inch pieces, rinsed well (about 1 pound)

  • 1 cup good-quality hard apple cider

  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh thyme leaves

  • ½ cup store-bought or homemade Creme Fraiche

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. Season chicken all over with salt and pepper. Melt butter with the oil in a large enameled cast-iron Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just bubbling. Add half the chicken pieces, skin sides down; cook, turning once, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken pieces to a plate; set aside. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces; add to plate. Remove pot from heat; let cool slightly.

  2. Return pot to medium-low heat, and add leeks. Cook, stirring frequently, until leeks begin to soften and are pale golden, about 3 minutes. Add hard cider and thyme. Move leeks to edges of pot, and add all the chicken pieces to pot, skin sides down. Arrange leeks over chicken. Cover, and cook 15 minutes (if liquid is bubbling rapidly, reduce heat to low). Turn chicken pieces, and cook until breasts are cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Use a slotted spoon to transfer chicken breasts to a plate, and cover to keep warm. Adjust leeks so they are submerged in liquid. Cook, uncovered, until the remaining chicken pieces are tender and cooked through, about 10 minutes.

  3. Transfer all of the chicken to a warm serving platter. Remove leeks from pot, and arrange them around the chicken. Cover to keep warm. Return pot to medium heat. Cook, uncovered, until liquid has reduced by about half (to a scant 2/3 cup), 8 to 10 minutes.

  4. Reduce heat to medium-low. Whisk in the creme fraiche and parsley. Ladle pan sauce over chicken and leeks. Serve immediately.

Cook's Notes

Regular apple cider or a dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc, can be used in place of the hard cider.

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