INSPIRED by the likes of Keith Floyd and Rick Stein, the Hairy Bikers - aka Dave Myers and Si King - are now arguably the kings of cooking on the road. Well, that and kings of the cookbook: They now have more than 20 tomes under their belts, and The Hairy Bikers' British Classics is their latest.

In fact, it's hard to think of anything they're not kings of. Perhaps the biggest of all though is their working friendship - when I meet them for the launch of British Classics, the pair could easily be mistaken for brothers. They've been working side by side for two decades, and are so comfortable together it's clear these men are best mates - a friendship forged over ovens and hot plates and thousands of miles on their trusty bikes (which are called Doris and Gina Lollobrigida, in case you're wondering).

The Northern Echo:

Luckily, King, 52, reveals that coming up with new recipe ideas has "never been a desert" for the duo. In fact, whittling down recipes to the shortlist for the book was harder work, because they are always thinking of ways to improve or tweak traditional dishes.

The book is a great mix of hearty, meaty favourites and comforting veggie offerings. It'll be accompanied by a nationwide tour in 2019, too - which will also be a good chance for the pair, who now split their time between Sittingbourne and the Loire Valley (Myers) and St Albans and Australia (King), to spend some proper time together.

They're keen for people to realise that fast food doesn't have to mean you don't cook it yourself. Myers, for example, grows basil in his garden in France and now has plenty of homemade pesto in the cupboard ready to make "Italian fast food", pasta pesto. "I've used really good oil. And I know now, if I just cook some pasta, with some purple sprouting broccoli to bulk it out, then put my pesto on... got a dinner in three minutes," says the 61-year-old.

So how do two very busy men like Myers and King keep their friendship happy? "It's safe to say that we're both family to each other," King muses. "We've been through a lot since we met. Ups and downs."

As well as career high points, that's included their share of health scares. Myers needed surgery to remove a cyst from his brain in the late-Nineties, while King suffered a potentially life-threatening brain aneurysm in 2014, and both men famously shed seven stone between them after being warned that their weight was a bit of a ticking time bomb.

They've travelled a lot together too, often on their beloved bikes. "It's absolutely part of our DNA," says King. "Do you want to see my chopper?"

He shows me his new bike, and explains that the exhaust is so loud he can break wind and nobody hears. It's a brilliant example of how down-to-earth these guys are. They're British Classics themselves, really - an observation that makes Myers laugh ("That's flattering!").

"We are incredibly privileged," adds King. "What better way to do this than with your best mate?"

* The Hairy Bikers' British Classics by Si King and Dave Myers (Seven Dials, £22)



(Makes 8-12)

1tbsp (heaped) lard or goose or duck fat

1 large onion, sliced

8 pork sausages

Sea salt

For the batter

150g plain flour

1tsp dried sage

2 eggs, beaten

275ml whole milk


1. First make the batter. Put the flour into a bowl and whisk it lightly to get rid of any lumps, then add a generous pinch of salt and the dried sage. Make a well in the middle and add the eggs. Work the eggs into the flour, then gradually add the milk.

2. Alternatively, put everything in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Leave the batter to stand for an hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Divide the lard or goose or duck fat between two four-hole Yorkshire pudding tins or one 12-hole tin. Put the tins in the oven to heat up.

4. Bring a small pan of water to the boil. Add a pinch of salt and the onion slices. Simmer them for three minutes, then drain thoroughly. Cut the sausages into rounds.

5. Divide the onion and sausages between the tins. Put the tins back in the oven and cook for 20 minutes, until the sausages have started to look nice and brown.

6. Remove the tins from the oven. Pour in the batter around the sausages and onion - there should be just enough batter to reach the top of each hole. Bake for a further 20 minutes until the Yorkshire puddings have risen and are a dark golden-brown.

7. Serve hot straight from the oven - with some gravy if you like.



(Serves 8)

5 egg whites

1 tsp ground cinnamon

250g caster sugar

1tsp white wine vinegar


100g dried cherries

100ml kirsch

For the spiced plums

200ml red wine

Juice of 1 orange

75g light brown sugar

1 cinnamon stick

A few cardamom pods, lightly crushed

A few allspice berries, lightly crushed

1 strip of thinly pared orange zest

8 ripe plums, stoned and quartered

To assemble

300ml double or whipping cream

1tbsp icing sugar

½tsp cinnamon (optional)


1. First make the meringue. Preheat the oven to 150°C/Fan 130°C/Gas 2. Draw a circle of about 23cm in diameter on a sheet of baking paper and place this on a baking tray.

2. Beat the egg whites with a hand-held electric whisk, until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl.

3. Mix the cinnamon with the sugar, then slowly add this to the egg whites. Add a tablespoon at a time to start with and then slightly more, beating in between each addition, until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Sprinkle over the vinegar and fold it in.

4. Use a few blobs of the meringue to secure the baking paper to the baking tray, then pile the rest into the marked circle. Make a slight indentation in the middle and allow the meringue to form peaks around the side.

5. Bake the meringue in the oven for about an hour and 15 minutes, to an hour and a half. It should be crisp round the sides but with some give in the middle. Turn off the oven and leave the meringue in there to cool completely.

6. To prepare the cherries, put them in a small saucepan with the kirsch. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer until the cherries are soft and plump and most of the kirsch has been absorbed.

7. To make the spiced plums, put the wine, orange juice, sugar, spices and orange zest in a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes until the mixture is syrupy. Add the plums and poach them in the liquid for a few minutes, or until soft but still holding their shape.

8. Remove the plums from the liquid, peeling off the skins as you go - they should just fall off. Strain the cooking liquid.

9. To assemble, whip the cream and add the icing sugar and the cinnamon, if using, then stir in a couple of tablespoons of the plum liquid and the cherries. Spoon the cream over the meringue base, top with the plums and drizzle over any remaining liquid.