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Archive for October 25th, 2010

Actually, I ought to start with a small confession…..  We ate Breton Chicken rather than Somerset Chicken, as I used a small bottle of cider from Brittany (it was what was in the cupboard and needed to be used).  I promise though that next time (and there will definitely be a next time) I will be authentic and put in the correct cider!  This chicken recipe is one of the best I have come across: with a delicious onion, apple and mushroom sauce including cider, cream and the piquancy of a very small amount of mustard.  One product that Somerset, a country in the West Country of England, is famed for is its cider.  Apart from being a popular and refreshing drink it can also be cooked into recipes in much the same way as wine or beer (think Coq au Vin or Steak & Ale Pie, for example) adding a delicious appley flavour.  I have previously posted a recipe for Sausage & Apple Cassoulet, with Pork Sausages cooked with a cider based sauce: Somerset chicken would I think also be good reinvented as Somerset pork.  This recipe also features a second product from Somerset.  Cheddar type cheeses are made widely across the world in places as far apart as Scotland, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand (and more besides) but Somerset is the home of real Cheddar cheese which originated in the town of the same name in the famous Cheddar Gorge.

The Hairy Bikers Somerset Chicken was one of the recipes that appealed to my whole family as soon as they saw it on the Hairy Bikers Food Tour of Britain television series.  I was very pleased to find the recipe at Good to Know.  It took me a while to get round to making it, partly because I hadn’t realised how easy it was, however having done it once and discovered its simplicity I shall make it more often.  It would be a good meal to serve visitors either for a simple midweek supper or for a more special meal.  My only comment is that this rich dish is unnecessarily enriched by the amount of butter and oil used especially as the recipe also includes cream and cheese.  I have reduced both of these, however the link to the original recipe is above for anyone who want to consult the original.  As usual, I also removed the skins from the chicken, because we prefer it and substituted reduced fat Elmlea single cream for the double cream, none of which I felt detracted from the finished dish.  As for the cider, I used half a small bottle of Breton cider and the other half is in the freezer for next time: I find that leftover alcoholic drinks store well in the freezer and are fine for use in cooking, though I’m sure they would be no good to drink.  (I’m sure that others would find fault with this but it works well for us and is a great way to have wine or cider to hand when there are small amounts left after a party.  You don’t always have to drink it up!)

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Somerset Chicken
(Serves 6)

6 large chicken thighs, boned or left whole, with or without skin
   or
6 chicken breasts, with or without skin (as per original recipe – skin left on)
2-3tbsp olive oil
5g butter
2 onions, sliced
4tbsp plain flour
2tbsp grain mustard
2 dessert apples, peeled & chopped small
125g/4ozs button mushrooms, sliced
250ml/9fl ozs chicken stock
300ml/10fl ozs cider
250ml/9fl ozs single cream
1tbsp finely chopped fresh sage leaves – be generous
300g/10½ozs Cheddar cheese, grated
6 baked potatoes

1.  Preheat the oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas 6. 

2.  Skin the chicken breasts or thighs, removing the bone and skin if you wish.  Season with salt and black pepper and set to one side.

3.  Place 2tbsp of oil and 10g of butter in a large frying pan and fry the chicken thighs or breasts for 1-2 mins on each side until they start to turn golden brown.

4.  Put them into a deep-sided oven tray and roast for 25 mins until the chicken is cooked through.

5.  Add the remaining oil to the pan, if necessary.  Cook the onions for about 5 mins until they have softened but are not coloured.  

6.  Stir the flour and mustard into the onions and cook gently for another 2 minutes.  Add the chopped apples and mushrooms.  Cook gently for 1 min. 

7.  Add the stock, blend in and bring to the boil stirring until thick before adding the cider.  Bring the sauce back to the boil, lower the heat and gently cook for 5 mins. 

8.  Add the cream and chopped sage.  Continue to cook the sauce for about 5 mins more before checking the seasoning, adding salt and black pepper as necessary.

9.  Preheat the grill to high. 

10.  Remove the chicken from the oven and place in a serving dish, pouring over the sauce so the meat is covered.

11.  Grate the cheese and sprinkle over the chicken.  Grill for 5 mins or until the cheese has melted and is golden and bubbling. 

12.  Serve with jacket potatoes and a green vegetable or salad.

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