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Eric Akis: Chicken with apple, walnut dressing a hearty fall meal

Chicken thighs, seasoned, roasted and served with pan gravy and a dressing flecked with bits of vegetables, apples and walnuts make for a perfect fall meal.
An autumn dinner for two with roast chicken, dressing and gravy. ERIC AKIS

If your partner and you like roast chicken served with dressing and gravy, you’re in luck today. I’ve cooked up a recipe for that comforting combination that serves two that could be enjoyed for dinner on Thanksgiving or another autumn day.

Tossing cubed bread with sautéed onions, apples and celery, chicken stock, walnuts and seasonings was how the dressing was made. The dressing was then set in a buttered casserole.

The chicken I used was bone-in thighs that I seasoned and roasted in a cast iron skillet 20 minutes. After those 20 minutes were up, I covered the dressing with foil and set it in the oven beside the chicken. The chicken was then roasted 20 minutes more.

At that point, the dressing was uncovered. The chicken was then lifted out of the skillet, set on the dressing and brushed with its pan juices. The chicken and dressing were then roasted up to 10 minutes more, or until the chicken was cooked through and the dressing was piping hot and golden. While the latter occurred, an easy-to-make gravy was on the stovetop in the skillet the chicken was roasted in.

Make a hearty meal by serving the chicken, dressing and gravy with mashed potatoes, yams, squash or carrots, and Brussels sprouts or other green vegetable.

Note: Thanks to the countless readers that sent me a note to let me know about the world-class typo I made in last Sunday’s column on Japanese-style hamburger steak. In that column I said I added freshly grated finger to that the steak. I meant ginger of course!

The only upside to making that typo was that it gave many readers a good Sunday morning laugh. But, please, use ginger, it’s much more appetizing!

Roasted Chicken for Two with Apple Walnut Dressing and Gravy

Chicken thighs, seasoned, roasted and served with pan gravy and a dressing flecked with bits of vegetables, apples and walnuts.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 50 to 55 minutes

Makes: two servings

1 Tbsp soft butter, plus some for greasing

2 1/2 cups cubed white or whole wheat bread

1/4 cup walnut pieces

1/4 cup finely diced onion

1/4 cup finely diced celery

1/4 cup finely diced apple

2 tsp finely chopped fresh sage, or 3/4 tsp dried sage leaves (divided/see Note 1)

1 1/2 cups chicken stock (divided)

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 large chicken thighs, trimmed, if desired, of any excess loose skin

2 tsp olive oil

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

1 Tbsp + 1 tsp all purpose flour

To make dressing, lightly grease an eight-inch square or similar sized casserole with soft butter. Set cubed bread and walnuts in a bowl. Melt the 1 Tbsp butter in a small pot set over medium, medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery and apples and cook and stir until softened, about three minutes. Mix in 1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh (1/2 tsp dried) sage and cook one minute more.

Spoon onion mixture over the bread, pour in 1/2 cup of the stock, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Spoon dressing into the casserole, and then set it aside for now.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Set chicken in 10-inch cast iron skillet or similar sized shallow-sided roasting pan. Brush top of chicken lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle and season chicken with remaining sage, paprika, salt and pepper. Set chicken in the oven and roast 20 minutes. Cover dressing with foil, set in the oven beside the chicken, and roast 20 minutes more.

Now uncover the dressing. Lift chicken out of the skillet (or roasting pan) and set it in a single layer on top the dressing. Baste top of chicken with the juices in the skillet. Roast the chicken and dressing five to 10 minutes more, or until chicken is cooked through and dressing is golden and piping hot.

While that happens, remove any excess fat/oil left in the skillet, and then set on the stovetop over medium, medium-high heat. Place the remaining one cup of stock and flour in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the stock/flour mixture to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Simmer gravy three to four minutes, and then season with salt and pepper. Transfer gravy to a sauceboat and serve alongside the chicken and dressing.

Note 1: Dried sage leaves are tiny, dried bits of crumbled sage. Its sold in the bottled herb aisle of grocery stores. Don’t confuse it with powdery ground sage.

Note 2: Island Farmhouse Poultry processed the flavourful, juicy, chicken thighs I used in the recipe. To find a list of stores selling their Vancouver Island-raised chicken products, go to

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Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.