"My first fall from grace came at a dinner with some friends at the Cavalry and Guards Club (not my usual hang-out I assure you), when the roast partridge was too much of a temptation and I succumbed..."
Well we can all breathe a sigh of relief, January is over. No more abstinence - alcohol, meat, biscuits, chocolate, trans-fatty acids, the world is once again your oyster. If you recall, I posted a couple of weeks ago concerning my concession to this annual self-flagellation, and my attempt to give up meat for a month in order to eat more fish. Well it certainly worked and I did eat more fish: kedgeree, oriental salmon broth, fishcakes, kippers (the perfect breakfast), and the smoked haddock and clam chowder I blogged a recipe for a few weeks ago, all featured on my January menu.
However, this tale does not have a virtuous ending. My first fall from grace came at a dinner with some friends at the Cavalry and Guards Club (not my usual hang-out I assure you), when the roast partridge was too much of a temptation and I succumbed, gladly in the end, as it was delicious. Then I was asked to go and compete in a blogger cook-off sponsored by Bordeaux wines, where I was tasked with the cooking of a fine Poulet Noir. Obviously I had to taste my own cooking, which lead to failure number two.
The final straw was a piece of chorizo which had been lingering in the fridge since December. Coming home one night after a few pale ales, I decided my tortilla would be infinitely better with the addition of the aforementioned chorizo, and that was number three.
Weak of will I may be, but I do know how to knock up a cracking toad in the hole, which is the perfect dinner to keep you warm during this cold snap. So if you can bear to read on through your disappointment, I promise that you won't regret it. Of course the foundation of any toad is a proper Yorkshire pudding batter and being a proper Yorkshireman (strong in the arm and thick in the 'ead!), you should follow my instructions very carefully.
The following recipe for the Yorkshire pudding batter can be used for the toad in the hole and for the individual puddings you make to go with your roast beef. As such there are a couple of general tips which apply to both.
First up is the batter: make sure it isn't too thick and stodgy, if it is it won't rise and you'll be left with doorstops rather than light and airy puddings. You want it the texture of single cream, no more than that. Then when you're cooking the pudding, make sure the fat is as hot as you can get it. To this end you should use an oil with a high smoking point, something like a sunflower oil, and when you're pouring the batter into the oil, make you put the pan onto the hob over a high heat.
Toad in the Hole
12 sausages (good quality, free range etc etc)
150g plain flour
200ml milk and 200ml water combined
Salt and pepper
Oil, for cooking
- Heat the oven to 200c. Put the sausages in a large roasting tin, place them in the oven and cook for 15 minutes, giving them a shake or two as they're cooking.
- Meanwhile, you can turn you attention to the batter. Sieve the flour into a bowl and add a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
- Make a well in the top of the flour and break both eggs into it. Now using a whisk, begin to slowly incorporate the eggs into the flour. Don't panic if the odd lump forms, as you keep whisking they should come out.
- When you have a smooth(ish) paste, start to add the milk and water a little at a time, still whisking. Add enough so you get the single cream consistency I mentioned earlier. If you find that the correct consistency has been reached and you still have some liquid left, don't keep adding it, as you don't want the mixture too thin and watery.
- When the sausages have had their 15 minutes, take them out and have a look at the pan. They might have leached out quite a lot of fat so you won't have to put any more in the pan before adding the batter. If not pour in a glug of oil and put back in the oven to allow the oil to heat up.
- When you'r ready to add the batter, put the roasting tin on on the hob over a high heat, and quickly pour in the batter - if the pan is hot enough it will start to bubble up straight away. Then evenly distribute the sausages in the pan and return to the oven.
- Cook for 25-30 mins, by which time the pudding should have risen and increased at least a couple of times in volume.
Now serve up the toad in the hole with onion gravy, mashed potatoes and some token greenery, savoy cabbage would be nice.
By the way, if you want a quick onion gravy recipe here it is! Just slice up and fry two large onions until caramelised. Add a tablespoon of flour, some red wine, stock (ideally beef, but the packet stuff will do), season with salt and pepper, cook for ten minutes and serve.