Hairy Bikers Somerset Chicken – With A Twist

The Hairy Bikers have become something of a national treasure in England. They’re a pair of self-described “big-hearted, down-to-earth cooks with a love of good food,” that have featured on numerous BBC specials. In fact, they’re the UK’s most popular food writing duo, and for good reason. They make delicious food that’s generally relatively easy to make for the average home cook. Today, we’re taking a crack at our own version of the Hairy Bikers’ Somerset chicken.

Hairy Bikers Somerset chicken makes use of a few simple ingredients (like apples, sage, and mushrooms) to create a creamy, fruity, and earthy bite of heaven.

And don’t worry – there won’t be any of the faff and filler present in most recipes. That means no fictional famous relative’s recipe and no 800-word story preceding the article, just the things you need to know.

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Hairy Bikers Somerset Chicken – Recipe & Ingredients

As with all recipes on DreamyHome, we start with the mise en place. A simple French term that literally translates to “everything in its place,” this mindset will keep your kitchen running smoothly, regardless of the dish you’re making. In short, it means that preparing everything before beginning the recipe will keep you happy and quick on your feet. It also allows you a bit of breathing room between steps, which is always appreciated. Now – onto the ingredients!

To make this Somerset chicken, you’ll need:

  • 6 skin-on boneless chicken breasts
  • 3 tbsp high quality olive oil
  • 75 grams butter
  • 2 sweet yellow onions, julienned
  • 4 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 2 apples, peeled and cut into batons
    • I like honeycrisps for this, but it’s up to what you have available (sweet works well here)
  • 110 grams button mushrooms
  • 250 mL chicken stock
  • 300 mL apple cider
  • 250 mL double cream
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped sage leaves
  • 300 grams cheddar cheese, grated
  • 6 baked potatos
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The Recipe

  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C.
  2. Heat a large sautee pan with 2 tbsp oil and 50 grams butter.
  3. Season your chicken with salt and pepper, and fry until golden – 1-2 minutes.
  4. Place seared chicken in a deep oven tray and roast for 25 minutes or until cooked.
  5. Add remaining oil and butter to the pan and sautee your onions until softened but not coloured, ~5 minutes.
  6. Add your mustard and flour and cook for two minutes, or until the raw flour smell has dissipated.
  7. Next, the apples and mushrooms go into the pan, for roughly 1 minute.
    1. You’re just getting them warm, they’ll cook later.
  8. Pour in your chicken stock and bring everything to a boil. Add your cider and continue to boil for 5 minutes.
  9. Add cream, sage, and 1 tsp each of salt and pepper. Simmer everything for at least 5 minutes, or until your chicken is ready.
  10. Turn your oven to broil
  11. Submerge the chicken in your sauce, covering it with your cheddar cheese
  12. While keeping a close eye on it, place your chicken under the broiler until it’s golden, slightly crisp, and bubbling.
    1. Do not walk away and set a timer – I didn’t give you a time for this on purpose. The broiler can and will burn this if left ignored.
  13. Serve with potatoes and butter.
  14. Success!

This is a very easy recipe that just takes a bit of time to complete. But it feels a bit basic, doesn’t it? If you want easy – this is a good go-to. But if you’re trying to spice up an otherwise normal (though still tasty) dish, keep reading. We’ve got a few twists coming that should make this all the better.

Read Next: Nigel Slater Beef Bourguignon (With A Twist).

The Twist – Recipe and Ingredients

Okay, now this twist requires a bit of work and, in essence, another second meal. I highly recommend serving this the day after completing our twist – which will make sense in a moment.

Essentially what we’re doing is making a seasonal mushroom and sweet onion soup to serve as a replacement for the sauce. It’s almost a cream of mushroom and onion soup while adding a bit of kick to things.

Now, here’s what you’ll need:

  1. 6 tbsp salted butter
  2. 2 sweet yellow onions, julienned
  3. Roughly (you need more for drinking, right?) 300 mL dry alcoholic apple cider
  4. 6 cloves minced garlic
  5. 475 mL seasonal mushrooms – I recommend chestnut, hen of the woods, or chantrelle (if you’re feeling fancy), but anything works.
  6. 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  7. 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  8. Roughly 1.5 litres chicken stock
  9. 2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
  10. 2 bay leaves
  11. 120 mL heavy cream
  12. Salt and pepper to taste
  13. 1.5 tsp smoked paprika
  14. 1 tsp of smoked chipotle and cayenned pepper (half tsp each)
  15. 3 beaten egg yolks
  16. 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped finely for garnish

Now – onto the recipe!

The Recipe

  1. Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once hot, add onions.
  2. Cook the onions until soft and translucent, roughly 10 minutes.
  3. Add 200 mL apple cider, ~75 mL at a time. Allow the cider to cook into your onions and cook until they’re deeply caramelised (at least 30 minutes).
  4. Add garlic, mushrooms, thyme, sage, salt & pepper, paprika, and chili powder. Cook for 3-5 minutes, and add the remaining cider, broth, Worcestershire, and bay leaves. Salt and pepper further, to taste – go easy here.
  5. Simmer soup (increasing heat as needed) for 10 minutes.
  6. Heat a small saucepan to medium-low heat.
  7. Stir in cream and cook for another 5-10 minutes, tasting as you go. Once it’s where you want in terms of depth of flavour, remove ~500 mL of the soup. Turn the soup down to low heat to keep it warm.
  8. Add the reserved soup to the heated pan, slowly stirring in beaten eggs.
  9. Cook until heated, and do not bring to a boil.
  10. Return egg mixture to the main pot, stirring in.

Serve with toasted cheesy bread, baked potatoes, or as-is. Garnish with fresh thyme and parsley.

When combining this with the Somerset chicken, only a few modifications are needed.

Instead of performing steps 5-8 of the Somerset recipe, sautee 2 sweet onions and the apple pieces in the same manner. Add 50 mL each of chicken stock and dry apple cider, simmer, and combine with heated soup from the night before. Continue the recipe as normal. If you find that the soup is too thick, add 1 tbsp of flour, cooking until the raw flour smell has dissipated. Repeat to thicken further.

If the soup is too thick (even with the added liquid), slowly add chicken stock until desired consistency is reached.

Read Next: Nigel Slater roast chicken – with a twist.

Final Thoughts

The Hairy Bikers’ Somerset chicken is a simple, classic English masterpiece. If you’re looking to further enhance it and get a bit of wow factor, though, our twist is sure to impress. The homemade soup in place of basic stock adds a real depth of flavour that you otherwise just couldn’t get. Making use of a good, dry alcoholic apple cider makes it resemble a good french onion or cream of mushroom soup while keeping that familiar tartness that we know and love from the apples.

The addition of egg yolk to the soup makes for a thicker, richer, and more luxurious mouthfeel that really can’t be rivalled. And finally, the chilli powder and paprika give both a smoky flavour and slight heat that really works well with the chicken. Overall, this is one of my favourite meals for a good, crisp autumn night that’s easy and give multiple meals!