As last Friday was the first of the month, and indeed the year, it was time once again for the Irish Foodies Cookalong and being January the theme was leftovers or budget food.
Putting on my thinking hat I decided that I would come up with a budget recipe rather than leftovers as I was a little bored with turkey and most of my leftover recipes are already up on the site.
Toad in the hole is one of my favourite budget meals, and what's not to love about it? It contains two of the most delicious things sausages and Yorkshire pudding and reaches it's zenith when paired with onion gravy.
The recipe below covers everything you need to do to get from start to finish in having this for dinner including veg. This recipe makes 6 portions for €9.30 but I used 3 different types of sausages which brought my price per portion up to €1.55 but by using a cheaper sausage you can bring the cost down to as little of €0.70 per portion.
The first thing to do when making toad in the hole is prepare your batter, then it can stand and thicken while you prepare the sausages and the start of the onion gravy.
First preheat the oven to 200°C. Weigh out the flour in to a bowl and make a well in the centre of it with a spoon. Crack the eggs into the well.
Add salt, pepper and the thyme if using.
Whisk the eggs into the flour and then gradually add the milk whisking continually.
Once it the egg and milk have been thoroughly mixed into the flour, ensuring there are no lumps, cover the batter with a tea towel and leave to one side
Now onto the sausages! I used 3 Toulouse sausages, 6 normal sausages and 2 smoked sausages for my toad, but you can use any type you like, but you will need at least 8 and I personally think 12 would be a better number of the normal size sausages to use.
Cut up the sausages into smaller pieces.
Heat 1 tblsp of oil in the frying pan and add the sausages. Fry until browned all over.
When the sausages are browned, transfer them to a bowl. Leave the pan as is for the moment as you will use it again for onion gravy.
Add the mustard and stir through the sausages. I used a tablespoon of Dijon and one of wholegrain mustard for extra flavour, but honey mustard also works really well.
Once the sausages are evenly coated in mustard transfer them into the roasting tin and add enough of the vegetable oil that the base of the tin is just covered. I found that 3 tablespoons along with the fat from the sausages was enough for me.
Place the tray into the oven for 5 mins until the fat has gotten shimmery hot.
While the tray is in the oven, it's time to start preparing the onion gravy. Peel and chop your onions, they don't need to be finely chopped, but smaller pieces would be better. Heat up the pan that you cooked the sausages in and add the onions. Keep them on a low heat until they start to brown.
The sausages should now be ready to come out of the oven. Take them out and immediately pour in the waiting batter and put back in oven as quickly as possible. It's important not to let the tray get too cool before it gets back into the oven as that can cause the batter not to rise properly.
The toad in the hole should take about 25 mins to cook properly, check it after 20 mins through the door, as opening the door will also cause the batter to not rise.
Now back to the onions. The onions, which have been gently cooking on your hob while you finish the toad in the hole for the oven, should now be a golden brown colour.
Add the teaspoon of sugar and the teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and allow them to cook with the onions for a couple of minutes before adding the beef stock.
Add the beef stock to the pan and bring to the boil. Leave it to boil for 5 mins. If you are using beef stock made from stock cubes, I find that 2 Oxo Cubes to 600ml of water gives you the best final flavour to the gravy.
Time to make the thickener for the onion gravy. I am very lucky to own a device that is designed to shake up flour and water together to make an easy to pour thickener, but if you don't have something like this the best thing to do is to mix the same amount of water and flour together in a cup or small bowl.
Put the 2 tablespoons of flour into a container with 100mls of water. Shake or stir to combine.
While the onion gravy is boiling is also a good time to prepare any vegetables that you are going to serve with the toad in the hole. I used carrots and frozen peas and put them on to cook about 10 mins before the toad was ready to come out of the oven.
Back at the onion gravy; once the stock and onion mixture has boiled for 5 mins, blend it together. You don't have to do this but my family are not fans of gravy with bits in, unless those bits are pancetta, so I do.
Once it's blended (or if you're not blending it) add the flour and water mixture bit by bit to the gravy, allowing it time to thicken before adding the next splash, until you reach the thickness you desire. I would also advise shaking/stirring up the flour and water mix before pouring it in so that you don't get lumps in the gravy.
All you have to do then is season the gravy and leave it to simmer until the toad in the hole is ready to come out of the oven.
After the toad in the hole has been in the oven for about 25 mins, remove and serve immediately with the vegetables.
Toad in hole with onion gravy is an excellent budget meal as it uses a lot of store cupboard ingredients such as flour, milk and onions. The only things that you might be purchasing are sausages, eggs and any vegetables that wish to serve with it.
It is also a very easy meal and takes very little time to put together for a weeknight dinner. Plus it's delicious! I do hope you give it a try.