Old-fashioned Toad In the Hole recipe

When the evenings begin to draw in and there’s a decided nip in the air, comfort food comes into its own. For me, Autumn heralds a farewell to frothy salads, beach barbeques and mezze platter picnics and ushers in warming stews, Sunday roasts and old-fashioned nursery foods. Top of my list is a traditional Toad in the hole and this recipe is care of Mr Jamie Oliver, who knows a thing or two about the best of British comfort food cooking. In my own, ever so humble opinion, the trick is to choose the best quality sausages you can afford and take your time with the onion gravy.

We are lucky enough in Cowes to have a great High Street butcher so get yourself down to Hamiltons and pick your favourite sausages to give this dish your signature touch. With 27 different flavours to choose from, including Venison, Pork & Beer and Minted Lamb, this will definitely be the most taxing part of the recipe!

Ingredients to serve 4:
sunflower oil
8 large sausages
4 sprigs of rosemary
2 large red onions, peeled and sliced into half moons
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 knobs of butter
6 tablespoons stock powder

285 ml / 0.5 pt milk
115 g plain flour
pinch of salt
3 eggs

To make:
To make the batter, whisk the eggs with the milk and then add the sifted flour and pinch of salt. Whisk well so that the batter is smooth and there are no floury lumps. Cover and put to one side.

Now get your oven nice and hot (240C/gas 9). Pour 1 cm of sunflower oil into a deep baking tin then place on the middle shelf of the oven. When the oil is very hot, add your sausages and allow them to colour without burning (roughly 10-15 mins).

Take the tin out of the oven and carefully pour the batter over the sausages. Swiftly poke a few rosemary sprigs into the batter but watch out for the hot oil which can bubble and spit even out of the oven. Carefully return the tin to the oven and cook for at least 20 minutes, by which time it should be golden, risen and crisp. During this time, do not open the oven door at all as even the slightest bit of cool air could cause the rising batter to suddenly flop.

For the all-important onion gravy, gently fry sliced onions and garlic in butter. Grind some salt over and let them slowly cook until softened and a little sticky (I sometimes add a little sugar to help them caramelise). Pour in the balsamic vinegar and let it reduce by half. Finally, crumble in a stock cube and a little water and simmer until you have a delicious onion gravy.

Serve with some seasonal greens or mashed potato if you want to go all out with the comfort food!

Then just light the wood-burning stove, sit back on the sofa and toast the arrival of Autumn with a warming glass of red or two!