Not so traditional Toad in the hole.

So this is a really versatile dish, that is good for family times when everyone has gone back to school or work and also have commitments in the evening.We also use this as a lunch item during the weekend simply by adding some crumbled black pudding to the mix and adding a poached egg on top.An alternative to this is to turn it vegetarian by using some lightly blanched cauliflower and brocolli and some oven roasted veg such as the leeks and some carrots to it.Here is the meat version and as i said if you wish you can leave the sausages out completely and just use vegetable.Its a cheap to make dish and done with some care its a real winter warmer.I also like to make the batter the evening before as this will give you a better crust and it will also save time.If you are using sausages then dont add any salt to the batter.I like to use a good quality Toulouse sausage in mine but if you want to stay traditional then try to get some pork chipolatas and I always leave mine whole.To add some moisture and sweetness I add some sliced Bramley apples with some thyme to the mix but this is really optional.

The Toad in all its glory

Recipe

150g plain flour

2 large eggs

180ml full fat milk

1 level tsp English mustard

Dash ground pepper.

Pinch of salt but only if you are not using sausagess as they have enough salt.

Method for Batter.

Simply combine all ingredients and either whisk by hand or use a handheld stick blender.Pop in the fridge preferably over night or at least for fifteen minutes.

Recipe for sausage toad in the hole for Four

12 pork Chipolatas or 8 Fat Toulouse Sausages

1 Leek washed and the green removed and cut into 2cm discs

1 Carrot peeled and cut into 1cm chunks

1 large onion sliced

2 bramley apples peeled and sliced

6 slices of streaky bacon chopped into 12

small bunch of thyme

200mls water or vegetable stock

Good pinch of ground pepper.

Method

I use a heavy duty cast iron pan with a lid as this allows me to fry and then to combine everything in it for the oven.

Start by frying your sausages and brown well but dont worry about cooking through as this will happen as they cook in the oven.Remove sausages and keep on the side.Add onions and carrots and cook out for ten minutes until both are starting to soften and its not necessary to brown or colour them.Add the leeks, apples and some choppped thyme and 200mls of water and place a lid on top or use a plate to cover.Cook out for a further 10minutes or until the leeks and apples have cooked down and most if not all of the water has evaporated For this dish to really work you do need the sugars of the leeks the apples and the onions and carrots to combine and the best way to extract them is the braising method which is what I have just described.If you have excess moisture at this stage try and drain it but please hold onto it as you can use it to make an onion gravy if you so desire.Now preheat your oven to 200C.Add the sausages back in and arrange all the ingredients so that they all have a little space between them and try to do it so that when its time to serve you can make sure that everyone gets a equal measure of vegetables and sausages.At this stage its good to add the pinch of pepper.Now add your batter and turn up the heat for about a minute or so and then place it all carefully in your preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes.Try not to open the oven while its cooking as this will disturb the batter mix.This is a dish that can be served with mash potatoes and some nice greens which is how I like to serve it but it works as well with just some nice steamed greens.

Toad in the hole with steamed green creamy mash and onion gravy

As I said earlier you can use this as a lunch dish simple by adding in crumbled black pudding and omitting the carrots and leeks and finishing it off with a poached egg on top.My kids love it like this as they feel its like having Yorkshire pudding with sausages and eggs.

The vegetarian version is also a great crowd pleaser but just remember to blanch and dry the cauliflower and brocolli if you decide to use them and to try to arange the vegetables in little groups so that everyone gets a nice neat portion of the batter with the vegetables.

If you want a gravy recipe have a look at this one.It does take some time but you can freeze any leftover or double the recipe and freeze half for use later.Also if you are using this for a roast dinner its a good idea to remove the roast from the tray and as much fat as you can and then add the gravy to the tray to do whats called a de-glace of the tray.This gets all of the roast flavour into your gravy.Also if you dont want the onions with the roast dinner then just simply strain them out.

30g butter

20g flour

500ml chicken stock or use a good quality low salt stock cube

1 medium onion sliced

1 Clove of garlic left whole but crush it using the side of an knife

2 sprigs of thyme or 2tsp dried tarragon.

1tsp brown sugar

1 stp tomato paste

100mls red wine or port

Dash of red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

Method

Melt the butter and add the sliced onion and crushed garlic with the thyme or tarragon or both herbs if you wish.Cook for about ten minutes then add the sugar and slowly start to brown the mix.Reduce heat and add in the flour and tomato paste and cook for three to four minutes.Then season with a little salt and pepper and add the stock with the wine and vinegar.Reduce the heat and cook out for a further ten minutes.

Now truth be told you can just use a gravy powder but I dont recommend that as its not got any body or presence, and lets be honest we have all eaten dinners especially Sunday roasts where people have burst a gut preparing everything to serve it with a gravy that leaves the side down so take the time and double the recipe so like my tomato sauce recipe you can keep a bit in the freezer for later.Thats it try this and enjoy and just be carefull putting in the oven and even more so getting it from the oven as any fats thats in it will bubble aound the side and trust me I know from past experience it burns.

Thank you and keep safe Liam

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