After pasta, chicken is a popular feature on many home menus. It's inexpensive and can appeal to different tastes because it's, well, safe and bland. But it doesn't have to be.

Shawn McClain, James Beard Award-winning chef of Las Vegas' Sage restaurant, cooks up a tasty chicken dish that makes the most of fall's bounty. This braised chicken meal can serve four people.

Chicken Braised with Cider, Honey Crisp Apple and Butternut Squash

4 to 5 pounds chicken legs, skin on and drumsticks and thighs separated
Flour for dusting
3 ounces vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 honey crisp apples, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into large dice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 1/2 cup apple cider
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cup Basmati rice (though long grain rice will also do)
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/4 cup water
Salt and pepper


1. Preheat a heavy bottom skillet over high heat. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Rinse and pat dry chicken pieces. Season chicken generously with salt and pepper. Dust in flour and shake to remove excess pieces

3. Add 2 ounces vegetable oil. Brown chicken pieces in batches and remove.

4. Pour out excess oil. Place 1 ounce of vegetable oil in pan. Add onions, apples and squash and reduce heat to medium. Cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 4-7 minutes.

5. Add tomato paste and stir to combine. Add vinegar, cider, chicken broth and browned chicken pieces and bring to a simmer.

6. Cover and place into oven and cook until chicken is cooked and has an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, about 30-35 minutes.

7. As chicken, apples and vegetables cook in oven, rinse rice under cold running water until water runs clear.

8. In a small sauce pot, melt butter and add Basmati rice. Stir over low heat for two minutes. Add water and salt and bring to a simmer. If using long grain, just add water. Cover and let cook over low heat until liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes and fluff with a fork. Keep warm.

9. Remove pot of chicken, apples and vegetables from oven and lightly season once more with salt and pepper. Serve with warm rice and juice.

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