Good old toad…never lets you down!

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Good old toad...never lets you down!

A back to basics meal last night – my kids said they fancied something with sausages and that was filling, and my daughter was pining fro gravy. So…call for Mr Toad! You can’t beat Toad in the Hole for its wholesome simplicity, its naive goodness, its tempting aromas and alluring goldenness. It’s a cheap meal and yet when done right I’d pay a lot more for it! But no need…I cook it!

We ate it with steamed buttered kale – a real favourite green in our house. Oh..and of course, a thick onion gravy!

Ingredients for 4 folk in need of sustenance of the down to earth variety

8 good pork sausages – I used Cumberland with a high meat content
Lard
1 red onion – thinly sliced
1 white onion – thinly sliced
2 large eggs
175 ml milk
110 ml of water
175 gm plain flour
Salt and pepper

Pump up the oven to 220c. Open a bottle of red. Make the batter – sift flour into a bowl, break in the eggs, add the water and milk and use an electric hand whisk to blend them together. Season.

In a frying pan, fry the onions until soft and then put to one side. Then add the sausages and lightly brown them all over.

Pop a chunk of lard – about a big tablespoonful – into a dish – I used an oblong Le Creuset dish measuring 20 by 30 cm.
Place in the oven and leave until it is starting to sizzle – about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and add the sausages – they should sizzle. (Love that word!) Then pour the onions over them. Finally, pour over the batter ensuring it gets into all corners – put back into the oven for 40 minutes until the top is crisp and golden and seriously plumped up.

I am sure you all have your own versions of this – but this is the one that works for me and although I do not make it often, when I do, it fills me with an enormous sense of well being!

As well as sausages and batter!

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Penne con Sugo di Salsicce….a brilliant mid week dish..

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Penne con Sugo di Salsicce....a brilliant mid week dish..

These tinkers nestling in the dish are from Parsonage Farm…. Tuscan Style sausages ..perfect for one of my kids’ favourite dishes. I first saw this dish eons ago in the first River Cafe book…and it has stayed with me ever since..though it gets a tiddly bit altered each time, depending on how I feel!

Right then, here we go…

2 tbsps Olive oil
5 or 6 Italian spiced fresh pork sausages, meat removed from skins and crumbled (if you can’t get them easily – just use good quality pork sausages)
1 small red onions peeled and chopped.
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped.
2 small dried chillies, crumbled or a good tbsp or two of crushed dried chillies.
2 bay leaves
Small handful of fresh rosemary
Large glass of a good red wine

2x 400g tines peeled plum tomatoes, drained.
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
120g parmesan, freshly grated – be generous
150ml single Cream
75 gram per person of penne rigate – but this is for folk who may not be hungry or not require seconds – I usually cook a 500gm bag.

Heat the oil in a large pan, and fry the sausage meat, stirring and breaking up the pieces. 

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After the juice from the meat has evaporated and the fat begins to run, add the onion, garlic, chilli, rosemary and bay leaves.

Cook gently for almost 30 mins until the onions are brown. Pour in the wine, increase the heat and cook until the wine evaporates. Now add the tomatoes, lower the heat, and simmer gently until you have a thick sauce, about 45-60 minutes.

Season with salt (and pepper, if the sausages were not spicy), and add the Parmesan and cream.

Cook the penne and then drain well. Add the pasta to the sauce, mix and serve. 

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This is so good..I mean…really truly scrumptiously delicious on a big scale.