Thursday, May 15, 2014

Toad in the Hole

Toad in the Hole!

I was introduced to this gastronomic version of a flannel robe and a hug by my friends The Brit Bitches. It is not to be confused with the American "Toad in a hole", known to my relatives as "Egg in the Hole" - that's a slice of bread with a hole in the middle, into which you crack an egg and fry in a pan. Oh, not at all.

"Toad in the Hole" is sausages encased in Yorkshire Pudding. Which is not actually pudding, but a batter much like a popover. Confused yet?

Short history lesson: Yorkshire pudding is an unleavened batter that was traditionally cooked under a roast. The roast was cooked right on the grate (no pan, thank you.) Below the grate, you placed a pan full of a flour/egg/milk batter. As it cooked and puffed up, the juices from the roast above would drip down into the batter, adding flavor.  My mouth is actually watering this very second.

Anyhoo, on to "The Toad".

This is a great midweek meal. It is easy, fast comfort food that doesn't really require much thought or effort. The most exacting part is putting together the batter. And how hard can that really be?

A couple of things I've learned along the way: Don't skimp on the resting time for the batter. 30 minutes is 30 minutes, no less. Also, get some fairly good sausages. Proper bangers if you can find them, but if not, any reasonably good pork sausage will work.  If all that's available is Italian style, I'd go for hot rather than sweet, but that's just me. The batch pictured was made with some Big Y pepper & cheese sausages that were going to expire the next day - so I got a pound for $1.99. Deal!

If you're trying to be The World's Best Mom, you'll probably want to serve this with a side of simply steamed veg. With vinegar on top, as this is, after all, British.

Toad In The Hole


1 lb pork sausage of your choice (in casings)
1 1/2 cups All-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups Whole Milk
3 large eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dry mustard (I use Coleman's. Of course)
2 tbsp butter
Cooking oil (Canola, Vegetable, something with a high smoke point. Not olive oil)

1. Combine the flour, milk, eggs, salt, pepper, mustard and butter in a bowl (or in a blender if you have one) and whip the shit out of it until well blended. Put this in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

2. Preheat the oven to 425.

3. Use a 9x9 cake pan (or really, whatever pan you have that is about that size - this is comfort food, not brain surgery). Put 2 tablespoons oil in the bottom of the pan, and put it in the oven to heat. We want the oil screaming hot when we throw the ingredients in, so you can just leave it there as long as you want.

4. Brown the sausages in a skillet. They won't get much color once they're in the batter, so we want to make them look purty.

5. When the pan in the oven is screaming hot, pull it out of the oven. Dump the chilled batter into the pan (sizzle noise is good here), then drop the sausages on top of the batter. Be artistic if you want with the arrangement, but nobody'll really give a shit in the end, anyway.

6. Pan goes back in the oven. Close the door. Do NOT be tempted to open the door for the next 20 minutes. If your oven does not have a light and a window so that you can check the progress... what the hell are you cooking in?

7. Cook for 25 - 30 minutes until the Yorkshire pudding part rises up and gets golden on top.  If you're really lucky (which I am about 2 out of 3 times - as in the picture above) it should actually puff up over the top of the pan like a souffle.

8. Serve immediately with onion gravy (or brown gravy, or whatever. I'm still trying in vain to find Bisto in this country) and whatever sides you think you may need to feel better about yourself.

You can refrigerate/freeze any leftovers, but be aware that while it'll still taste OK, the light fluffy quality of the Yorkshire pudding won't quite be the same as it is fresh out the oven.

When you've finished dinner, nip down the pub for a pint.