Olympic Peninsula – Oct. 2017
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Bourbon Braised Chicken with Apples and Herbed Polenta Recipe

Bourbon Braised Chicken with Polenta Recipe

Hearty bourbon braised chicken with apples and polenta — a recipe for a delicious end-of-season dish.

The calendar may say spring, but, for many of us, the weather still feels like winter. What better way to warm up than with a hearty chicken dish made with bourbon?

New York City Chef James Briscione loves to fuse his love of bourbon and cooking shares with us his Maker’s Mark braised chicken with apples and creamy herbed polenta dish. This simple yet appetizing entrée brings in bold flavors to wrap up the very last of the winter season.

Chef Briscione teaches at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. He has worked at New York City’s famed Restaurant Daniel and has won Food Network’s Chopped and Chopped Champions Tournament, becoming the show’s first two –time champion. He co-authored “Just Married and Cooking,” a cooking and lifestyle entertaining guide with his wife, Brooke Parkhurst, which developed into a website offering recipes, tips and cooking classes.

Recipe courtesy Chef James Briscione

Editor’s note: When I tested this recipe, I used thighs with bones and deboned them myself, which is cheaper and gave me several thigh bones to simmer with water and make some delicious stock. Also, at the last moment, I realized I was out of bourbon so I replaced the bourbon with brandy and some rum. The chicken was still hearty and delicious.

Flaming the liquor is relative easy, so there’s no need to fear it. I used a propane lighter (the type you use with BBQ’s); quickly touching the flame to the liquid. Don’t leave it burning too long or boiling too long or you’ll lose too much liquid.

The polenta recipe may seem a bit fussy with having to soak the milk/water combination with garlic and herbs for 30 minutes, but the results are spectacular. One of our editors said of this creamy, flavorful polenta, “This is the best polenta I’ve ever eaten.” We think you’ll agree.

Chef Briscione

Chef James Briscione is a two-time Chopped Champion, restaurant chef, and culinary instructor.

Chef Briscione uses Makers Mark Bourbon, but you can substitute any high-quality bourbon.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 cup onions, chopped

1 golden delicious apple, chopped

½ cup celery, chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 cup bourbon

3 cups chicken stock

1 tablespoon butter

2 golden delicious apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges.


1.            Heat the oil in a heavy bottom pot. Season the chicken thighs well with salt and pepper and sear to golden brown on both sides.

2.            Remove the chicken from the pan and add the onions, apple, celery and garlic. Cook over a medium flame until the onions are tender and lightly browned.

3.            Turn the heat off the pan and add the bourbon. Carefully flame the bourbon and boil until reduced by half. Return the chicken to the pan, and add the chicken stock.

4.            Bring the stock to a simmer, cover the pan and place in a 350˚ oven for 45 minutes.

5.            While the chicken is in the oven, sauté the apples in butter until tender and lightly browned.

6.            After 45 minutes, remove the chicken from the oven. Strain the liquid and discard the vegetables. Put the liquid back on the stove and reduce by half. Just before serving, return the chicken to the reduced sauce. Garnish with sautéed apples. Serves 4.


Herbed Polenta

2 cups chicken stock

2 cups milk

1 bouquet garni (parsley stems, fresh thyme and bay leaf tied in a bundle)

1 head garlic cut in half

3/4 cup yellow polenta or grits

2 tbsp butter

¼ parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons minced parsley


1.            Combine the milk and stock in a medium saucepot. Add the bouquet and garlic, bring the mixture to a boil. Cover and turn off the flame. Set aside for 30 minutes to infuse the herbs into the liquid.

2.            Remove the herbs and garlic, return the mixture to a boil. Whisk in the polenta.

3.            Simmer, stirring often until tender and thickened. Finish by seasoning with the butter and parmesan. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley.




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Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor

RFT co-founder Bobbie Hasselbring has been a travel junkie her entire life. An award-winning writer and editor for more than 25 years and author of the regional food-travel bestsellers, The Chocolate Lover’s Guide to the Pacific Northwest and The Chocolate Lover’s Guide Cookbook, Bobbie is editor-in-chief at