Toad in the hole with onion gravy

Pouring onion gravy over toad in the hole
Toad in the hole is one of those inexplicably odd British phrases and no one really knows where the name comes from. A lot of people think that it comes from the idea that the sausages look like frogs peaking up through the batter…..I know, weird. But there is not really any evidence for this, and there is not a consensus on the correct origin. In the end, who really cares about the name when basically it gives us an excuse to combine Yorkshire puddings and meat in one dish. That’s all that toad in the hole is: Yorkshire pudding batter poured over golden sausages (or traditionally just cheap cuts of meat). It’s easy and quick enough for a weekday dinner, but also a nice idea for Sunday dinner since you don’t have to make individual Yorkshire puddings, which can be a bit of a faff.

Use whatever sausages you like in this dish – flavoursome types with lots of herbs or spices will give a lot of extra flavour, but whatever you have in the house will work. Apple is the perfect accompaniment to pork and the chunks of apple in the batter soften during cooking to give bursts of soft, sweet flavour. And, of course, we couldn’t have toad in the hole without a rich onion gravy to smother over the top.
Ingredients for toad in the hole and onion gravy
Ingredients (serves 3-4)
1 egg
100g flour
300ml milk
8 sausages
1 apple, cut into wedges
Vegetable oil

1 tbsp olive oil
Small knob of butter
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp soft brown sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Small glass of red wine
1 tbsp corn flour
600ml beef stock
1 tsp red currant jelly

Method
1. To make the batter, mix the egg into the flour with a little of the milk until you have a thick paste. Slowly pour in the rest of the milk and whisk until smooth. Add a pinch of salt and leave aside for later – you can make this a couple of hours in advance and just cover with a dish towel.
Ingredients for the yorkshire pudding mixture
Mixing the flour and egg for a yorkshire pudding mix
Yorkshire pudding mixture for toad in the hole
2. Preheat the oven to 200C fan/220C/Gas Mark 7. In a roasting tray, toss the sausages and apple chunks with a few tablespoons of oil and roast for about 15 minutes until the sausages start to brown.
Sausages and apples for roasting
Pour the batter into the hot oil and put the tray back in the oven for 35-40 minutes until the batter has risen and is cooked through.
Roasted sausages and apple wedges
3. Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan and add the sliced onion. Cook on a very low heat for 15-20 minutes until the onions have started to become golden.
Softening the onions in butter and olive oil
Browning the onions in olive oil and butter
4. Add the sugar and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Adding brown sugar to the onions
5. Pour in the vinegar and wine and turn up the heat a little so the liquid bubbles away for about 3-5 minutes until it’s a syrupy consistency.
Adding balsamic vinegar and red wine to the gravy
6. Mix in the corn flour and cook for 30 seconds. Slowly add the stock and simmer until the gravy has reached the consistency you like. At the end drop in the red currant jelly and mix until it’s all melted into the gravy.
Onion gravy
With meat and carbohydrates combined into one dish, toad in the hole is pretty filling so I think that some vegetables are all that’s needed on the side – along with the onion gravy of course. However, I won’t argue with you if you want to serve up some mashed or roasted potatoes too.
Sunday dinner
Classic comfort food for Sunday dinners or cold winter nights.

Sausage and Bean Casserole

Roasting tray with sausages, peppers, tomatoes and beans
A girl can’t live off cakes and bakes. This may be controversial, but, sadly, it’s true. This week I have a few savoury recipes for you, and today’s one is the perfect weekday meal during the colder months of the year: few ingredients, quick and comforting. It really is just a case of bashing some ingredients into the oven and letting them work their magic. You can also adapt the recipe according to what you have in your cupboards – use whatever variety of tinned beans and tomatoes you have, add a red onion or sprinkle over some chilli flakes.

Ingredients for casserole laid out - sausages, peppers, mustard, tinned tomatoes, tinned butter beans and oregano
Ingredients (serves 4)
Olive oil
12 Cumberland sausages
2-3 tsp Dijon mustard
2 red peppers
1 tin cherry tomatoes
1 tin butter beans, drained
1-2 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6.
2. Add a glug of olive oil (about 1 tbps) to a roasting tray and heat in the oven for 5 minutes.
3. Use scissors to cut your sausages apart and add to the roasting tray, moving the sausages around in the hot oil. Cook for 20 minutes, shaking half way through.
4. Add the mustard to the sausages and cook for another 10 minutes.
5. Chop the peppers into chunky strips and add to the roasting tray. Cook for 10 minutes.
6. Finally pour in the tomatoes and beans and season with the oregano, salt and pepper. Cook for a further 10-20 minutes until hot and bubbling.
Dinner plate of sausage and bean casserole, broccoli and buttered bread
Serve with fresh bread and steamed vegetables, as we did, or with a side of mashed or baked potatoes. We guzzled the lot between 4 people, but if you want to make the sausages go further (say 2 per person) then I would add an extra tin of both tomatoes and beans, so that there is enough to go round.