Friday, 27 October 2017

Toad in the Hole with Roast Pumpkin and Crispy Sage

This time of the year is full of foodie traditions. Mid autumn is a great time to get out and explore your favourite foodie haunts and pick up treats for the family to eat. At the end of October one of my families favourite follies is visiting our local pumpkin patch and picking up pumpkins to carve and eat. So after navigating the maize maze, we eventually found ourselves in field of brightly coloured pumpkins ready to select the best for Halloween and the best for the table.

On a Sunday afternoon the girls and I took to the fields, armed with a wheelbarrow and hungry tummies we set about the pumpkin patch looking for the best gourds that we could find. The patch offered excellent variety and after searching for the unblemished perfect Pumpkins we turned tails and headed home to cook up our bounty and begin the feast.

First though the girls wanted to prepare for Halloween. I find that to get children to eat vegetables, particularly new ones or vegetables that they don't see as often, it is best to let them 'play' with them for a while. Allowing the girls to find and identify their perfect pumpkins was the start, but as d sucker for new kitchen tools and tricks we also picked up some carving tools ready to turn our orange (and white) beauties into scary Halloween'y heads.

After what seemed to be hours of carving we eventually finished our ghoulish treats and then our tummies rightly pointed out that it was soon to be dinner time, so how to cook them? An absolute winner of a recipe for the girls is 'Toad in the Hole'. Everything is nicer when its crispy and roasted so that was the treatment our Pumpkins were going to get. Roasted and baked in a Toad in the Hole.

Toad in the Hole with Roasted Pumpkin and Crispy Sage 

225g Plain Flour
8 Eggs
Fresh Lemon Thyme (Tbsp Leaves)
Pint of Milk
Maldon Salt
Black Pepper
Rapeseed Oil
6 Sausages (I used Powters Newmarket Pig Sausages)
About half of a seeded and peeled medium sized Pumpkin.
Handful of Fresh Sage Leaves

Get the oven on to 220 degrees and place a suitable baking dish (with relatively high sides) in the oven (add a little oil to get hot in the dish).

Firstly you need to mix the batter. Add the Flour to a large bowl and then one by one add the eggs. Add the milk, lemon thyme leaves and stir, remembering to season the batter. Batter is easy to make, you can make it in advance and it gets even better. Given time I would have let mine sit in the fridge for at least a few hours (it helps with the rise) but in this instance there was no time, I had hungry mouths to feed. One quick note here, flours vary hugely so the consistency you want to aim for here is thick cream , add or reduce the amount of mil that you use accordingly.

Meanwhile chop up your Pumpkin into large chunks. Separate your sausages and then get them all in a frying pan with a little rapeseed oil. Fry until the Pumpkin has got some nice caramelisation and your sausages have some colour too.

Next, remove your now very hot baking dish from the oven and using a suitable tool place your sausages in the pan. Pour over your batter, moving the sausages into optimum position (where everyone will get some). Now place your pumpkin in the gaps and put back in the oven. Turn the temperature down to 180 degrees straight away and set the timer for 40 minutes.

Now, this is the time where I went on to make my Caramelised Red Onion Gravy.. I'll post that recipe soon enough.

Just before the 40 minutes was up I took my Sage leaves and removed the stalks. On the chopping board I tossed them in a little rapeseed oil to prevent them burning and then when the timer started bibbing I opened up the oven and placed the sage leaves on top of the batter. This opening of the door allows the steam in the oven to escape and in the final 10 minutes of cooking (reset that timer!) allows the batter to really crisp up.

10 more minutes pass and then remove your roasted pumpkin with now crispy sage 'Toad in the Hole' to rest for a few minutes then serve. If you would prefer this makes a hungry meal for two or alongside some veggies (and that Caramelised Red Onion Gravy) this can easily feed four.

The sweetness and earthiness of the pumpkin sits perfectly alongside some juicy sausages and the crispy sage leaves on top really makes this dish something to enjoy.. Particularly on those 'getting evermore chillier' autumnal nights. Yummy.