Springfield Autumn Chicken with Apple Cider Gravy

My Springfield, Illinois host was in the mood for something full of fall flavors. I came up with this unintentionally Paleo chicken recipe, which we enjoyed alongside distinctly not paleo roasted potatoes and herbed string beans. My host tells me that she’s made it for herself along with garlic mashed potatoes for a comforting taste of fall.

Don’t be misled by the photo! This warm, hearty paleo main course is just as good served with crispy roasted brussels sprouts, lemon-herb asparagus, and baked carrots for a dinner that can be shared by your paleo, gluten-free, and unpicky eaters alike.


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 6 thighs
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste on the chicken breasts
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp fresh apple cider (not apple cider vinegar), divided
  • 1/2 stick (4 tbsp) butter (optionally more)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots (about 3 small or 2 medium)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced yellow onion (optional; about 1 small)
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 12-16 sage leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 heaping tsp cornstarch (ignore for Paleo)


  • Liberally smear salt and pepper all over your chicken pieces.  
  • Drizzle olive oil in a large, deep skillet and sear your chicken bits until the outsides are a nice golden brown. They won’t be cooked through yet, so toss them in an oven safe dish and put them in a 350F oven for another 20ish minutes (depending on the thickness of your chicken.)
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter in the same pan you used to sear the chicken. Toss in your shallots and onions, coat them in tasty butter, and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until they soften up and start to turn a nice shade of tan. Add in the garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir it all up and keep cooking for another 3 minutes, or until the garlic barely starts to brown.
  • Roughly bruise the sage leaves and toss them in the skillet. Aggressively stir them into the shalloty mix for about 1-2 minutes.
  • Now that they’re all friends, invite them to a pool party as though they’re Sims! Deglaze the pan with your apple cider. Use a wooden spatula/turner to scrape up all the tasty brown bits now floating around like your favorite dead characters. Turn the heat up to medium high and watch as they all float around, desperate not to drown. Use your god-like powers to stir them back under the dark and turgid waters. Keep this up until the cider comes to a low simmer, and let it continue simmering and thickening until it’s reduced by about half.
  • If all goes well, this should be about the same time as the chicken is ready to come out of the oven!
  • If you’re a nice person you’ll now fish all the sage leaves out of the gravy.
  • If your diners aren’t paleo, whisk your reserved 2 tbsp of apple cider and your heaping tsp of cornstarch until it’s free of lumps. If they are, then instead of a gravy you’ll serve a thick sauce. Honestly, it’s good either way.
  • Turn off the heat but don’t move the pan. Slowly pour in the cornstarch mix, aggressively whisking to make sure it doesn’t end up lumpy. Keep cooking it for another 3-4 minutes. When you’re satisfied with the taste and thickness of the gravy, take it off the heat. Feel free to adjust more salt and pepper at this point.
  • Drench your chicken pieces in the gravy. Poke them a few times with a fork so the gravy soaks in a bit while it cools enough to eat.
  • This is just as good the next day as part of a cold salad as it is fresh and hot from the oven. Always make leftovers, because this chicken is a big hit!