One-Pan Bacon-Chicken Legs with Cabbage, Potatoes, and Apples: Your Fall into Cooking Dinner!

This simple Oktoberfest braise will be a happy addition to dinner rotation. Leftovers are great!

You know how you just love those meals where you toss everything into one pan and slide it into the oven? Here’s another to add to your list of easy favorites that also makes the house smell like someone special is coming to dinner. They are and it’s you! My very fall-ish one-pan chicken braise is simple to grasp, fun to make, and will fill you up happily this very week. (Sorry I’m a little late to the Oktoberfest party… but it couldn’t be helped.) Chicken and apples, much like pork and apples, are a lip-smacking and quintessential autumn pairing. If you like this dish, it can go into your regular dinner rotation and — hey — you’ve got something different to eat! Leftovers are luscious for small households and the recipe can be decreased or increased. Look through the photos, read the instructions, and put the inexpensive and healthy ingredients on your shopping list, though you might have some of them already. Check under TIPS to see about how to change it up to suit your tastes. Here you go…

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BRAISE:

... to cook slowly in fat and a small amount of liquid in a closed pot.

He braised the beef in a wine sauce.                      ~Merriam-Webster

Ready to try this?

One-Pan Bacon-Chicken Legs with Cabbage, Apples, and Potatoes

Possible additions include sliced carrots, fennel, or frozen peas. Changes might be leeks instead of onion or more apple in place of potatoes. You could even swap in pears for apples – or use a combination. Bone-in thighs will work instead of drumsticks. See TIPS in the blogpost for an idea about using breasts or whole legs. See Cook's Notes's for increasing or decreasing the recipe. Make this for your homestyle Oktoberfest celebration!
4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 thick pieces of bacon cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 8 chicken legs (drumsticks)
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 medium tart apples cored and sliced (I like Granny Smith.)
  • 8 small unpeeled 2-inch new potatoes, sliced (about 2 1/2 cups sliced potatoes)
  • 1 medium yellow onion-peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme
  • Pinch ground cayenne
  • 1 bay leaf, crumbled
  • ½ small head of cabbage, cored and sliced into ½-inch thick wedges
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1 cup dry white wine (can sub chicken broth or apple cider)

Instructions

  • PREHEAT OVEN/COOK BACON: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Set rack at center. Over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp in a deep 12-inch sauté pan or dutch oven on the stovetop. Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined bowl and set aside. Pour or spoon out all but about 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan.
  • BROWN THE CHICKEN IN THE BACON FAT: Sprinkle the chicken generously with salt and pepper and place in a single layer in the pan. Cook for several minutes over medium-high heat until browned on one side, then turn and brown the other side.
  • ADD THE VEGETABLES, ETC. In between the chicken legs, add the apples, potatoes, and onions, mixing them as you go along. In a ramekin or small cup, stir together the thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper, the pinch of ground cayenne, and sprinkle it over the apple mixture. Add the bay leaf. Lay the slices of cabbage and garlic evenly over all and sprinkle with a tiny bit more salt, pepper, and the caraway seeds. Dot with butter. Pour the wine over everything.
  • BAKE/ SERVE HOT OR WARM: Cover, and place in oven, baking for 30-40 minutes or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the chicken reads 165 degrees F or above and all the vegetables and apples are tender, particularly the potatoes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot or warm with a spoonful or two of the juices and garnished with the reserved crispy bacon pieces.
    Store yummy leftovers carefully covered for up to 3 days, heating gently in a small skillet and adding chicken for just a minute at the end. Do not freeze.

Notes

Cook’s Notes:  2-3 SERVINGS:   I tried this with 6 legs and 6 potatoes, too, in the same size pot  with the same amount of onion, apple, and wine. Worked just fine. 
6-8 OR MORE  SERVINGS: I did not try it, but think you could increase this recipe, browning the chicken in batches, adding all of the ingredients to a big casserole dish covered in foil or larger dutch oven, and increasing the baking time.  
Copyright Alyce Morgan, 2021. All rights reserved.

Drumsticks are delicious, fun, healthy, and inexpensive:

above: Have a Costco membership? Chicken drumsticks are often $1.49 a pound and I have even snapped them up for .99 a pound. Great deal and lots of good food. They come pre-seasoned, though fresh, but you can rinse the seasoning off and pat them dry before using them for this dish if you wish.
above: Here’s a pack of 6 drumsticks I bought at Whole Foods a few months ago. You bet I picked up a couple of them and tossed them into the freezer.


Need a slow cooker Halloween dinner?

Slow Cooker Pumpkin-Black Bean Chili with Alyce’s Green Onion Cornbread

TIPS:

READ/WATCH:

52 Recipes to Get Your Braise On/BON APPETIT

CHANGE IT UP:

  • Want to use whole legs? I’m sure they’d work well, but do let them brown in the pan on the stovetop for several minutes longer on each side and then test in both the thigh and drumstick for doneness after braising in the oven. Alternately, you could divide the legs into drumsticks and thighs before cooking as indicated.
  • Want to use boneless chicken breasts? I haven’t tried it as I’m not a big fan. Check out this method.
  • Add a thinly sliced carrot or red bell pepper for color and flavor.
  • Omit potatoes; increase apples or use thinly-sliced turnips.
  • Skip the cabbage and instead serve with sautéed spinach.
  • Swap in pears for apples or use a combination.

EQUIPMENT: If you’re a regular blog reader, you know one of my favorite pieces of cooking equipment is a 5 or 5 1/2-quart sauté or sauteuse pan with cover. While that pan is great for this recipe, a 5-6 quart dutch oven would also work perfectly well. If you have neither one of those, cook the bacon and then the chicken drumsticks (a few at a time if needed) in a skillet and then add the chicken (scraping up any brown bits), vegetables, fruit, spices, herbs, and wine to a casserole dish. Cover it in foil and bake it. As noted in the Cook’s Notes, this is how you could make a larger version of the dish, too. Buy yourself a sauté pan or dutch oven for your next birthday.

REDUCING WASTE:

  • Reheat leftovers in a small covered skillet over medium-low flame, adding the chicken for only a minute or so — or add it cold to the plate.
  • Just vegetables left? Heat them in a small skillet over medium- low flame and top with a piece of provolone or some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and cover. You’ll need a spoon for this French Onion Soup Wannabe.
  • Extra cabbage makes lovely slaw or you might just sauté it in butter and serve it over peppered parsley rice. Shred it into salad greens for extra crunch and nutrition. Cabbage keeps a long time, is healthy, and can be used in lots of ways. Don’t wash or cut it until you’re going to use it.

WINE: While I used an Oregon Pinot Gris for the wine in this dish (and it drank nicely in the glass, too), you might naturally consider an off-dry (halptrocken) German or Washington State or NY State Riesling because, after all, it is still Oktoberfest time.

DESSERT: Make my Pear and Almond Torte with Scotch Whipped Cream. It’s easy, in season, and you’ll add it to your regular fall baking plans.


If you liked this, you might also like my:

Parmesan Chicken Drumsticks with Rosemary White Beans:

or my Chicken and Vegetables:

LIFE GOES ON:

I stored quite a bit of fresh basil in glasses with water over the last week after giving even more away to neighbors before the first hard freeze. The end of it went into last night’s dinner. PESTO! You were mine for one more night! I tossed it with some whole wheat spaghetti (I like Whole Foods 365 brand ww pasta) and served it with Italian sausage (I like local Sara’s Sweet Italian Sausage) and fresh tomato sauce I had cooked and frozen a couple of weeks ago. A little simple salad on the side and that was one sweet deal for a Wednesday meal.

below: I make pesto in the food processor, though I’m sure it’s better made by hand. I use Claudia Roden’s recipe from her THE GOOD FOOD OF ITALY cookbook. She rocks. Had no pine nuts, so used walnuts. Yum.

My husband Dave and I are pretty much isolating after being exposed to Covid last weekend. Our niece Gina has the virus and we’re praying she recovers totally and quickly. We have no symptoms, but went and got tested today “out of an abundance of caution.” I’m keeping myself amused by reading Dorie Greenspan’s newest cookbook, BAKING WITH DORIE: SWEET, SALTY & SIMPLE. Deciding on a recipe to bake this afternoon has been difficult but think it’ll be the Cheddar-Scallion Scones; I have the ingredients!! As I bake at altitude (6,500 feet), I’m careful about my baking and this recipe looks like a winner with little to no changes necessary. Need a beautiful birthday or holiday gift for your favorite baker? He or she won’t be disappointed with these 150 yummy recipes. Want to bake a recipe from the book yourself? Try the Caramel Chocolate Chunk Cookie Recipe. Or: Catch up with Dorie on her website. You can also see what folks are baking from the book on Instagram. Type #bakingwithdorie into the search box and see what’s coming out of the oven.


Next day update: Scones were lovely and perfect for dinner. I did add some fresh ground pepper on top for happiness and liked them leftover with a little soft butter plus a sprinkle of flaky salt alongside some homemade tomato soup. (The scone recipe calls for fine sea salt; I might try kosher salt next time for a higher salinity factor.) While I can’t include the recipe since that’s not kosher to do…I’ll keep an eye out to see if a link pops up for it as they sometimes do for recipes in new books — in reviews, interviews, etc. If so, I’ll come back and stick it in right here.

Thanks for keeping me company in my kitchen; it means a lot to me! BTW, our tests were negative. Phew.

Be well and cook on to spend more time at the table,

Alyce

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