- 1/2 pound applewood-smoked bacon, chopped
- 3 pounds chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 1 bulb of fennel, chopped, about 1 1/2 cups (reserve 1/4 cup chopped fennel fronds for garnish)
- 2 Fuji, Gala, or Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
- 3 pounds cabbage, cored and chopped into large pieces
- 1/2 cup applejack, or other apple brandy
- 1 to 2 cups apple cider, as needed
- Grilled apples, optional, for garnish
- Apple chips, optional, for garnish
Add the bacon to a 6-quart or larger round Dutch oven set over medium-high heat and cook until fat is rendered and bacon is crispy, about 6 minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on paper towels. Discard (or save for later use) all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat from pot.
Season the chicken with the allspice, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken pieces, skin side down, to the pan (in batches if necessary), and cook until nicely browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Set aside.
Add onion, chopped fennel, apples, and fennel seeds to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, then return bacon to pan. Increase heat to high and add half of the cabbage, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring, until cabbage is slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add remaining cabbage to pan and cook for 5 minutes longer. Stir in applejack and once evaporated, return chicken to pan, nestling it in the cabbage. Add apple cider as needed, to cover chicken, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the chicken is very tender, 50 minutes to 1 hour.
Serve in shallow bowls with fennel fronds, grilled apples, and apple chips, if desired.