Friday, 16 June 2017

Toad in the hole with red onion gravy

Baron Silas Greenback
Famous toad and nemesis of Dangermouse and not featured in this recipe whatsoever

Lying bastards, the lot of them. Recipe writers I mean. Shepherds' pie is not made from actual shepherds, hamburgers don't contain ham and devils on horseback are no more infernal than a stroll in the park. Likewise, toad in the hole. It's just sausages in Yorkshire pudding and has no actual amphibian content at all. Well, unless you manage to get hold of some toad sausages. This isn't as unlikely as you might think as sausages can be made from representatives of most of the animal kingdom. Personally, for example, I've eaten sausages made from squirrel and zebra, besides the usual domestic livestock. In fact, someone in Australia does make sausages from cane toads but they weren't actually for human consumption but to distribute around the environment as a form of aversion therapy in order to make other animals puke and stop eating the toxic toads.

In fact, a lot of amphibians have some truly interesting stuff weeping out of their warts. Cane toads are part of urban legend because of their supposedly hallucinogenic secretions. People have been actively looking for these little fellas and giving them a lick in an attempt to get high. Thing is, as well as having hallucinogenic qualities, the secretions are also actually quite toxic and this has made the toad lickers keel over, getting them less tripping off their tits and more shuffling off this mortal coil.

I've posted a few recipes for British dishes in the past but I have generally been pretty scathing about what passes for British (or, more specifically, English) cuisine. However, this is another rare example of a truly great dish that hails from this sceptered isle. 

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp plain flour 
1 vegetable stock cube
½ tbsp Worcester sauce
½ tbsp dark soy sauce
150 ml red wine
350 ml water

Toad in the hole
2 medium eggs poured into a mug
an equal volume of plain flour
an equal volume of milk
salt and pepper
1tsp coarse grain mustard
6 good quality pork sausages (enough for 2 or 3 per adult)
2 tbsp oil (not olive, something like rapeseed)

Make the gravy by first heating the oil in a medium-sized pan

Fry the onion and celery in the hot oil, gently, over about 15-20 minutes so it becomes soft and lightly caramelised

Add the flour and mix well, scraping any thing that catches on the pan bottom so it doesn't stick before adding the rest of the ingredients and stirring well.

Bring to a gentle boil and very simmer for 20 minutes or so, and keep warm ready for serving with the toad in the hole

Make the Yorkshire pudding batter by breaking the eggs into a mug, then adding the same volume of flour in a similar mug.

Sieve the flour into a mixing bowl to remove any lumps

In the same mug that was used to measure the flour, add milk to the same volume as the eggs in the other mug.

Make a well in the middle of the flour in the mixing bowl and pour in the eggs.

Add plenty of salt and pepper and the teaspoon of mustard and, using a fork, start to beat the eggs, gradually incorporating flour from the edges of the well

Begin adding the milk, a little at a time, again incorporating the flour from the edges of the flour

When all combined, keep beating the batter to remove lumps, ideally by switching to a whisk

Heat the oven to 220°C

To an oven-proof dish, add the vegetable oil and the sausages and put in the oven for 10 minutes

Remove the dish,  pour in the batter and bake for 30 minutes.

Serve with the gravy over a big mound of creamy mashed potato

This recipe for Yorkshire pudding batter is one recommended by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (or, as I refer to him, Hugh Fearnley-Poshbloke) and also works for individual puddings to accompany a Sunday roast.

While I may poke fun at him for his Eton background, I do have a lot of respect for HFW as a cook, and do like his approach to quality food.

The better the sausages, the better this dish will be. Good, meaty ones work best.