One of the classic dishes from the back catalogue of British cuisine. It is a dish of pure comfort and a great home for these venison sausages.
I’m not entirely sure if toad in the hole ever actually involved a toad – it doesn’t seem beyond the realms of possibility – but, regardless, it has definitely taken on a more appetising guise in the modern kitchen. For it is now sausages that are usually found snuggled into their undulating blanket of Yorkshire pudding batter and it makes for a particularly pleasing situation. No need to get too clever with it, as a well-made onion gravy and some greens are the best accompaniment. Creamy mashed potatoes too, if you so please.
Venison sausage toad in the hole
3 organic eggs
1 savoy cabbage, bruised outer leaves removed, core removed and then roughly sliced
- For the onion gravy
3 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves ripped from the stalks
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 tbsp plain flour
250ml of dry cider
500-600ml of homemade chicken stock
cabernet sauvignon vinegar
- Start with batter
- For this recipe, you need an equal volume of the three ingredients; flour, eggs and milk. So, crack the 3 eggs into a measuring jug and make a mark at the level that the eggs come up to. Tip the eggs into a mixing bowl and then measure the milk so that it comes up to the mark you made, then pour the milk into the bowl and whisk with the eggs. Next measure out the flour to the same line on the measuring jug. Tip the flour into a separate mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Then, whisking continuously, add the egg and milk mixture. Whisk until all combined and smooth. Pour through a sieve and then leave to rest for at least 2 hours.
- After 2 hours, add 2 teaspoons of sea salt and whisk again.
- For the onion gravy
- Set a large heavy bottomed pan over a high heat and add a tablespoon of duck fat. Once the fat is melted and hot, carefully add the rosemary leaves and allow them to crackle in the fat, for 30 seconds. Then add the onions, garlic and a good pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
- Keep the heat high and cook the onions for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, but allowing the onions to take on some colour.
- Turn the heat down to low, cover with a lid and continue cooking for a further 15 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Sprinkle the flour into the pan and stir thoroughly and then add the cider and bring to a boil, stirring regularly.
- Add the stock and allow to come up to a very gentle simmer and cook for another 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. If at any point the gravy appears too thick, then simply add a dribble more stock (or water) to loosen.
- Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary – a few drops of Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar are essential.
- To cook the toad in the hole
- Pre-heat your oven to 220°C.
- Find a suitably sized oven proof dish and add to it 2 tablespoons of duck fat and place it in the oven for 5 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and carefully add the sausages and gently move them around the pan.
- Make sure the sausages are evenly spread around the tray and then pour over the batter. Return the tray to the oven immediately and close the door. At this point it is really important to keep the door closed, as if it opens the pudding will collapse.
- Cook at 220°C for 5 minutes and then reduce the heat to 165°C and cook for a further 20-25 minutes.
- Set a pan of water over a high heat, season well with salt and bring to a boil. Add the cabbage and blanch for 2 minutes.
- Drain the cabbage and then return to the pan with a knob of butter, a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper.
- Remove the toad in the hole from the oven and prepare to serve.