You know what?
ROUND UP THE USUAL SUSPECTS!
Welcome BACK to Al Dente and Oh Good LORD it’s been too long since I wrote that. One and a half houses, a couple of jobs and a new county later here we are! In Milton Keynes! Which is a little like living in a 1980s Doctor Who episode or a really, really nice bit of Mega City 1! Also, Buckinghamshire weather does not mess about as the torrential rain, wind and slight hint of Inspector Morse on the air is telling me today.
Anyway, let’s Al Dente this thing. We are, of course, singing from the songbook of St Jamie:
(We lug in his name)
Specificially, his new book, JAMIE’S COMFORT FOOD. Now, this has appeal to me for two reasons; firstly because a new cookbook is like a new territory, ready to be mapped into deliciousness and secondly because I love comfort food. In fact, had I produced this book it would probably have been called ALASDAIR’S YOU KNOW WHAT, LET’S JUST SAY BOLLOCKS TO THIS AND MAKE SOME CHIPS AND NORTHERN FRIED CHICKEN. AGAIN. With the sequel of course being ALASDAIR’S OH, CAKE, REALLY? YES PLEASE THAT WOULD BE LOVELY.
But it’s the Jamietron so Comfort Food is what we get. And what’s the first one out of the gate?
Toad in the Hole!
Could have been worse, could have been Spotted Dick.
You can get cream for-
What’ve we got up there, Victor?
From the left:
-Jamie’s new book. Looking very dapper.
-Eggs galore (I used 4 but took 6 out of the fridge, always play with their minds)
-Chicken stock. Yes, fear us puny mortals because the chicken-y gelatinous excrescence of Marco Pierre White has returned! RETURNEDDDDDDDD! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
-Some Lincolnshire sausages
-Some Roasted Garlic Olive Oil
So, what’s first? The gravy! And, mild psychological trauma!
First off, chop the onions. I went for two. There are any number of ways to do this but I favour the ‘Chop them in half, then finely slice them length ways until the entire onion collapses and you just randomly hack at it until the bits are small enough.’
Yelling ‘RETURN TO THE HELL YOU CAME FROM, DARK ROOT LORD!’ is optional but I find provides added spice.
And speaking of spice, and trauma, as we were, here’s the other thing you need to chop.
‘But Alasdair!’ I imagine you crying, ‘Why is sausage meat going in the gravy for a meal whose meat component is sausages?’
Because Britain, gentle readers. Because Britain. We should count ourselves lucky there aren’t digestive biscuits, a Morris Minor and a picture of Dan Dare in there too.
So here’s what you do; you chop the end off the sausage and you squeeze from the other end so all the meat comes out into a frying pan. Add the onions and cook both until the onions are translucent and you’ve been cooking them for so long you have a beard and your arm has fused to the pan.
Now, this is the bit where Jamie (We lug in his name)’s portion control goes a little Mr Creosote. All the Comfort Food recipes are for 8-15,000 people and because there’s just the two of us I cut it in half. In most cases this was fine and led to left overs. In one, it led to wackiness.
This is the wackiness.
He wants you to put some oil in the bottom of a dish and start heating it. That’s all well and good. Then he wants you to put the sausages in another dish and heat them for 20 minutes. Again, fair enough because you’re going to be cooking the onions till Christmas anyway.
Now, I didn’t quite realize that he was making Toad in the Hole AND Yorkshire Pudding because, well, that’s like making cheese on toast with a side order of extra toast.
Which actually sounds pretty good.
I’m not making my case very well.
Anyway, the point is this; the recipe actually calls for both Toad in the Hole and Yorkshire Pudding. This surprised me somewhat and there was this whole screwball comedy thing with the sausages being moved through three separate dishes but it’s fine now. It’s FINE.
Also I may want cheese on toast.
So, with the oil and sausages heating, it’s time to put a salt in some batter-y! HA! HA! Oh God. Look I’ve not done one of these in a year and that’s easily the worst joke I’ll write so let me have this one.
Here’s how you make the batter;
-Put 700 grams of flour in a bowl.
– If you’re Jamie and you’re following your own recipe, also add a 450 ml bottle of Hoegarden beer or something similar.
-Add Rosemary sprigs.
-If you’re me, discover that no supermarket near you stocks any beer that looks even a little like that and become horrified by the concept of Lager flavored Toad Batter. Also the phrase Toad Batter. Buy some nice Cheerios instead and leave.
-DO NOT PUT THE CHEERIOS IN THE TOAD BATTER.
-Put ingredients in bowl. Whisk crap out of them, add salt and 500 ml of milk.
The secret here is seasoned batter because Toad Batter is like British pancake batter, it’s a delivery system you eat. If it tastes of flour, eggs and milk then it’s not going to taste of much at all. If it tastes of Rosemary, salt, pepper and a little paprika say, then you’re on a winner.
With the Toad batter (Gag) now complete, split it into two jugs and add one to the oil you’ve been heating. The other gets poured over those sausages you’ve been baking.
I SWEAR it looks better than this when it’s done.
Then, back in the oven for both at 200 degrees again for 30 minutes.
And no, the gravy still isn’t bloody done.
But! In about 20 of those Earth minutes, it will be. When it is, take the following:
-2 tablespoons of HP Sauce
-The gelatinous chicken excrescence
-Two tablespoons of flour
-750ml of water
And add them all to the onions and sausage meat. The water will need to be gradual, and by gradual I mean across a whole 5-11 seconds whilst the rest can just go straight in. Stir it all in, crank the heat up and cook it down until it’s the consistency you want.
Also? You will have lumps in there. You don’t have to. This isn’t one of those recipes where you have to be precious or anything. If you need to? Get the stick blender or mixer out and whisk that gravy to life.
Then, take it all out of the oven and you get…this!
More food than ANY two humans can safely eat! Hurray!
What I learned
-Jamie Oliver really likes Yorkshire Pudding
-The heating the oil beforehand technique is actually a bit brilliant. Look at Pudzilla on the left there! Thing looks like a loaf!
-The recipe either recommends too much oil or I put too much in there
-Gravy with meat in it is in fact as delicious as cheese on toast with extra toast.
-I really like doing these.
So there you go! I’ll do these weekly from now on so join me next Wednesday for more deliciousness! Thanks, folks!