Thursday, 17 April 2014

Eat, Drink and be MerryDown (Cider)

I was invited to attend the celebrated cooking school Foodat52 for an evening of MerryDown cider and cooking by the Celebrity Master Chef winner Ade Edmonson.  Ade is also well known for his television career with The Young Ones and Bottom - neither of them were something I watched but I had formed my own opinion about Ade and I must admit I was very wrong.  He was a genuinely friendly person and enjoyed sharing his recipe and cooking skills along with tales from his time on Master Chef with us.

I often drink cider cold over ice cubes in the summer and find it a really refreshing way to endure a hot afternoon. Fresh and refreshing MerryDown, brewed to a traditional Sussex recipe since 1946, now comes in two flavours, original apple and blackcurrent.

We were treated to some very fine Morris dancing by the MerryDown Men (notice everyone always seems to have a glass of MerryDown in their hands!)

Ade Edmonson took us through his really easy, user friendly recipe for Coq au Cidre (posh way to say Chicken in Cider).  All of the ingredients are available in most supermarkets including the most important - the MerryDown Cider.

Everything prepped and ready to get cooking.

And here is how he does it:-
Coq au cider
Ade Edmondson

"This is a take on Coq au Vin that worked even better than I expected – there’s a sort of delicious stickiness the Merrydown cider gives it (I use the medium cider) that makes it almost sweet ‘n’ sour. It’s also incredibly easy to prepare." (Ade Edmonson) 

Serves 4
4 chicken legs (complete with the thigh)
1 TSP mustard seeds
120g lardons
1 TBSP Olive oil
100g butter
3 cloves garlic –chopped
2 medium sized onions –chopped
2 sticks of celery – sliced
2 medium sized carrots – sliced
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 TBSP flour
1large bottle Merrydown medium cider
200g small chestnut mushrooms

You need a heavy bottomed pan or casserole dish into which the chicken legs will fit snugly, and which is deep enough to cover the chicken legs in cider. You need a lid too, or some foil if you haven’t got one.

o   Pour a glug of oil into a heavy bottomed pan or casserole dish. Once it is hot add half the butter. Once that has melted add the lardons and fry until they are very nicely browned, then remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon.
o   Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown them in the oil, butter and left over fat from the lardons, then remove them from the pan too.
o   This is the fun bit – add a heaped teaspoon of mustard seeds to the fat and put on the lid. A glass lid is the most fun, as after a couple of minutes you can watch the seeds burst and fly about all over the place. The make shift tin foil lid is fun too though, as the exploding seeds cause brilliant indentations on the underside.
o   Once the seeds have all popped (after a minute or so) add the onions, garlic and celery, and gently cook them off until the onions are translucent.
o   Add a tablespoon of flour to the pan and stir until it has been absorbed –a kind of makeshift roux.
o   Pour in a little of the cider and stir, and keep adding more, stirring each time, until the cider has absorbed the roux.
o   Now add the carrots, return the chicken and lardons to the pan and add the sprigs of thyme and the bay leaves. You need to make sure the chicken is completely covered by the cider. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and leave to simmer, and cover it almost entirely with the lid – almost, but not quite – you want it to reduce, but not very quickly.
o   Leave to gently simmer away for an hour, checking occasionally – if it looks like it’s drying out too much add more cider.
o   When the hour is nearly up slice the chestnut mushrooms and fry them off in the remains of the butter – you want to get them nicely browned – once they are done, add them to the pan and leave it for a further 10 minutes.

Serve with boiled potatoes to soak up that delicious sauce.

The finished dish served with boiled baby potatoes and green vegetables. Very tasty and very easy to make. A great dish for a relaxed supper with friends and much of it can be prepared and started in advance.


I was the guest of Merrydown Cider and Foodat52 and was not obliged to write a positive review.  All photos and opinions are my own.


  1. I really do love cooking with cider. My husband prefers to just drink it though :)

    1. I like cooking with cider but in the summer I do love a cold cider with ice cubes.

  2. I don't drink so never tried cider although I do use apple cider vinegar in baking.

    1. Cider is like Appletise but with alcohol really. You can substitute in recipes if you like

  3. so disappointed you didn't try morris dancing for yourself;) A guilty secret - I used to play fiddle for a morris team when I was 19...mostly because I fancied the other fiddler.

    1. You sly fox Fiona, your secret is safe with me!