Before you ask, no toads died in the making of my dinner (although a pig or two was not so lucky....).
Toad in the Hole is a traditional English dish of sausages cooked in Yorkshire pudding batter, I also add bacon to the mix, for extra porky deliciousness. I like it with loads of onion gravy, mash & something green, last night it was brussels sprouts. We had friends around for dinner, and my toad was a hit, I urge you to give it a go, particularly on a cold winters evening when a good solid dinner is required.
The Yorkshire batter also works perfectly on its own with a roast, either cooked as my Aunt always did I a large roasting pan with drippings from a tin under the sink, or as I do now in muffins tins (saves an undignified scramble at the table for a corner piece).
It is straight out of the wonderful Jane Grigson's "English Food", and works a treat everytime. It originally came from a Chinese gentleman, who won a competition back in the 60's to make the best Yorkshire Pudding. His secret ingredient was tai luk sauce......it took Jane Grigson years to discover that this was a joke, tai luk meaning mainland China! Actually I think the secret is in the slightly back to front way of preparing the batter
Toad in the Hole
12 good meaty pork sausages
12 rashers streaky bacon (optional, but good good good)
300 ml milk
1/2 tsp salt
Grind of pepper
250 gr plain flour
Preheat the oven to 220C
Wrap your sausages in a rasher of bacon, and place in a large metal roasting dish. Metal is essential here as the batter rises with the combination of eggs & searing heat, which wont conduct as well through glass or ceramic. Add a splash of oil, about 2 tablespoons.
Put the sausages in the oven for 15 mins, and make your batter. Beat together the milk, eggs & seasoning and let sit for 15 minutes. Sift in the flour, and whisk to a thinnish batter, about the consistency of cream.
Take the pan out of the oven & quickly pour the batter all around the sausages, it will sizzle a bit. Put the dish straight back in the oven & cook for 20-25 mins until golden & puffy. Serve with gravy, mash & greens....or whatever you like, it will taste fabulous.
This is my go to gravy when, as in this case, I don't have pan drippings to work with.
Peel and slice 3 onions into thin crescents, then cook very slowly over low heat in a frying pan with a good splash of oil, a knob of butter and a sprinkle of salt. It is the slow cooking (about 30 mins) that creates golden sweet onions, and gives your gravy flavour & colour.
Sprinkle with a tablespoon of plain flour, stirring to cook the flour for a minute or so, then pour in 1 1/2 cups of beef stock (from a carton is fine), turn the heat to medium & stirring, bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, and check the seasoning, a good grind of pepper is always good here. If it is to thick add a splash of water or stock to thin.
I am well aware Brussels sprouts are loathed by some ( I am married to a sprout hater) but steamed lightly, then fried for a couple of minutes in butter with lots of salt & pepper they are delicious. The after effects can be odourific, but worth it, I'm not kidding......
I have been very quiet of late, someone told me once " if you haven't got anything to say, don't say anything", and I suppose I have had that in mind. Winter seems especially grey this year, and I must say I feel like I lost my mojo for a while there. But a nice break in Sydney, a few new adventures (cheese making, you will be hearing plenty about that in the coming weeks) and a bit of navel gazing and hello world, the crockpot is on & I am slowly coming back to a simmer. Hoping to reach a boil by summer:)
PS Speaking of Crockpots, I have a beef stew I put on after breakfast simmering away and waiting for dumplings, is there anything so cheap & easy that can make a girl feel more competent, organized and generally beyond reproach ? The glare of my halo is giving me a headache......