Happy St George’s Day to all our Ar Bruidair readers who are celebrating!
After the success of our St Patrick’s day and St David’s day posts, we knew we had to come up with something great for St George’s day but boy was it difficult to come up with a celebration meal that was a proper celebration of English food rather than British food (something that’s not specific to England but enjoyed all over the British Isles), so I hope we’ve managed and not disappointed all our friends celebrating today and shared something properly English that so that we can all join in and celebrate together.
Toad in the Hole is basically a large Yorkshire pudding with sausages baked into it. I struggled to find much on the origins of the dish, so please feel free to email me lots of info if you have it and I will update this blog post accordingly, but from what I could find, there are recipes for toad in the hole (of one type or another) on record from the early 1700s. They rarely involved sausages, however, tending to be pigeon or beef but the essential element was meat baked into a large Yorkshire pudding.
The recipe I’m going to share is an absolute favourite of mine, it’s from Allegra McEvedy’s book “Big table busy kitchen” which is one of my favourite cookery books, and Allegra has shared this recipe online and in newspapers a few times (I would absolutely recommend getting this book). So there are two parts to this dish, the toad in the hole itself and the cidery onion gravy to go with it. Hey for St Geroge’s day, there has to be proper English cider. Not cidre, cider!
for the cidery onion gravy
- 3 onions, peeled and sliced
- large knob (25g) butter
- splash of olive oil
- 250ml good, sweet, English cider
- 250ml chicken stock
- sprig of rosemary, picked and chopped
- salt and pepper
For the Toad in the hole
- 110g plain flour
- 2 eggs
- 300ml whole milk
- 4 tbsp oil
- 8 decent quality pork sausages, proper sausages not chipolatas
- ½ tsp salt and pepper
Let’s get cooking
First thing you want to do is get your gravy going. Get the sauce moving first: get a saucepan on a medium heat and melt the butter with a splash of olive oil. Throw your sliced onions in there and let them sweat down.
Make sure you give these occasional stir to stop them from sticking or burning and after about 10 minutes you should see them softened. At this point, turn the heat down to low and give them another 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally as before.
Time to get the oven on to preheat at 220°C or 200°C fan and whilst the onions are doing their thing knock up the best Yorkshire pudding (that’s controversial – I know at least one of our readers will have a family recipe they claim is better).
Sieve the flour into a bowl, whisk the eggs and add them then slowly start pouring in the milk, keep whisking.
Once it’s all smooth, you want a smooth batter, add the ¼ tsp salt and quite a bit of pepper then cover the bowl and put in the fridge until needed – chilling the batter is important, so give it at least half an hour.
Find yourself a deep roasting tray. Pour in the oil and put it in the oven to get HOT!!! This is the key to getting your yorkie to rise, that oil needs to be searing hot.
Check on your onions and grin like a nutter, cause the will be lovely by now. Add the rosemary and give it a good stir and then pour in your good quality English cider and let it come to a boil. Once it hits a boil, add the chicken stock and let it come back to a boil before turning the heat down for a steady simmer: about another 22-25 minutes to thicken into a good gravy.
Meanwhile, throw the sausages into the hot roasting tray, jump backwards swearing because that oil is going to spit, and stick them back in the oven for about 10 minutes to brown on the outside, giving them a good shoogle half way though.
Once the sausages are a nice even colour, move them around the tray nice and evenly (so everyone gets some sausage) and pour the cold batter into the hot oil, again there will be a bit of swearing. Give this 20-25 mins, but DON’T OPEN THE OVEN DOOR until 20 mins to give the batter fair chance to do its thing: you’re looking for crisp, risen outside with no claggy, soggy bits in the middle, so once you’ve had a squiz stick it back in if it’s not there yet.
Check on your onion gravy and if you are happy turn it off and let it wait on your toad in the hole.
Serve as soon as the batter is cooked in the middle, make sure everyone gets batter and sausages and smother it with the lovely gravy.
Job’s a good ‘un!