Wednesday, 6 October 2010
Toad in the Hole with Homemade Sage and Onion Gravy
The unquestionably curiously named Toad in the Hole is a British dish made chiefly from egg based batter and sausages. There are no toads, frogs, or any other forms of reptile, to be found among its ingredients. It can in theory even be one of the simplest of all dishes to make, simply by beating some eggs, pouring them in to hot oil in an ovenproof dish and adding some skinless sausages. I have taken it a little bit further on this occasion, using speciality sausages and serving it with homemade sage and onion gravy. It remains, however, a very straightforward dish to prepare.
Toad in the Hole is normally prepared for two or more people. The quantities in this instance, however, provide a satisfying meal for one person.
3 organic pork, herb and mustard seed sausages
1 tbsp plain (all purpose) flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp sunflower oil
The first step is to put the sunflower oil in to a casserole dish and put the dish in to the oven to preheat to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7. The eggs should then be broken in to a bowl and beaten. They should be seasoned with salt and pepper and the flour beaten in to form a batter.
It is not essential but a much better presentation will be achieved if the sausages are skinned prior to them being cooked. This is best done with a fork, rather than with a knife. Simply ease one of the outside tines of the fork under the skin at one end of each sausage and carefully slit through its entire length, much as opening a letter with a letter opener. The skin can simply then be peeled away and discarded. It is worth taking a minute or so to do this properly, so as not to damage the shape or form of the sausages.
When the oil is heated, the dish should carefully be removed from the oven and sat on a wooden board on a flat surface. The batter should then be poured in to the hot oil (be careful of spluttering!) and the sausages sat on top. The dish should be returned to the oven for around thirty minutes.
Sage and Onion Gravy
As soon as the egg and sausages are in the oven, it is time to start preparing the sage and onion gravy. This consists simply of the following:
1/2 white onion (thinly sliced)
1/2 tsp dried sage
4fl oz fresh vegetable stock (chicken stock may be used as an alternative)
The butter is firstly melted in a saucepan before the onion and sage are added. The mix should be stirred for a few minutes until the onions begin to turn transluscent. The heat should then be reduced to minimum and the onions left to break down for around fifteen minutes.
It is important to heat the stock in a separate pot before thereafter adding it to the onions and gently simmering for ten minutes.
After about half an hour, the toad in the hole is as cooked as I like it to be. In most instances, it will be left until the egg turns a dark brown (is burned, in my eyes!) and has crisped up to an almost puff pastry like texture. If you prefer it this way, by all means give it another ten minutes or so in the oven.
The Toad in the Hole should lift very easily out of the casserole dish with the aid of a large spatula on to a plate. The onion gravy should then be spooned carefully over the top and the finished dish garnished with a twist of tomato slice and a small sprig of fresh basil.