Sausage Toad with Browned Onion and Madeira Gravy

Sausage Toad with Browned Onion and Madeira Gravy

I am not sure that getting fancy with a classic dish like toad in the hole can come to any good. I have added mustard because I think it flatters the sausage, and wrapped the bangers in ham to make the dish more substantial, but that is as far as I go. This dish has a homely quality that defies meddling. There are those who like a bit of batter with their sausages and those who prefer a bit of sausage, with their batter. I am fondest of the batter - both the crusty bits on top and the soggy underneath - so I make my toad in a wide dish to give plenty of room around the sausages for the batter to swell. Then, of course, there’s onion gravy

Serves 4

2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup milk mixed with 2/3 cup cold water
1 level tablespoon grain mustard
6 fat, herby pork sausages
4 ounces (100g) thinly sliced prosciutto, pancetta, serrano ham or even thin streaky bacon
3 tbsp. drippings or lard

Mix the eggs, flour, milk, mustard and some salt and pepper together with a whisk, beating out any little lumps of flour as you go. The consistency should be about that of heavy cream, but no thinner. Leave to rest for fifteen minutes.
Cut the skin from each sausage and peel off. Wrap each skinned sausage in prosciutto or whatever you are using. Put the dripping or lard in a baking pan - I use a 11 x 8 inch roasting pan - and place in an oven preheated to 425ºF until it is smoking. Pour in the batter - it will sizzle softly in the hot fat - then arrange the sausages in it. Bake for twenty-five to thirty minutes, till puffed and golden. Serve with Browned Onion and Madeira Gravy.

Browned Onion and Madeira Gravy
I first intended this gravy to be poured over my toad in the hole but now make it for mashed potatoes, potato cakes, liver and braised vegetables (it is sensational with celery that has been braised in vegetable stock). It keeps for a couple of days in the fridge and is glorious poured over steaming hot, over bubble and squeak.

a very thick slice of butter
2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
flour, no more than a level tablespoon
1/3 cup Madeira, Marsala or red wine
1¼ cups stock
Worcestershire sauce

Melt the butter in a heavy based pan, add the onions and cook over a low heat till golden and soft. Now continue cooking, covered with a lid, until the onions are truly brown and soft enough to crush between your fingers.
Stir in a level heaped tablespoon of flour and cook for a few minutes until it has lightly browned, then pour in the liquids. Season with salt and pepper and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat so that the gravy bubbles gently and leave for about fifteen minutes, stirring from time to time.