Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Tom's Week - Day 2

Toad in The Hole.

One of those dishes that everyone makes jokes about, but if they've never tried it, they don't know what they're missing. It is a favourite in this family, so they've all learned to cook it but it's Tom's week, so he's making it tonight. They are counting the hours. No joke.

It's really very easy, but a few steps are crucial. So you need two things. Some sausages, and some Yorkshire Pudding Batter.

As this is a traditional English dish, an English sausage would be quite appropriate, but they are of...intermittent availability and quality in North America. Just because it says "English Sausage" on the label means nothing, unfortunately. A local supermarket, Zehrs, was selling something to this effect for years, which was OK,  and then they changed the recipe. The new version was vile.

(BTW, while I'm here, a "banger" is not really any old English sausage, it's a certain type, but you can't get genuine bangers over here, so that's that.)

What I suggest is that if unsure, use a good quality "country" sausage, that is to say a coarse texture, with herbs in the recipe.

BUT. We discovered, thanks to research by my soon-to-be-son-in-law, that it is not really an English dish at all, but was invented by an Italian chef, who was believed to have created it based on an Italian dish. So we tried it with a mild Italian sausage and never looked back. I'm probably going to have my passport revoked for saying so, but I prefer it that way.

So, opinions vary on whether to cook the sausages first or not, but I do, and for a good reason.

For Yorkshire Pudding to work properly it needs to be cooked in hot fat, in a hot pan. If you cook the sausages in the dish you intend to use, all you have to do is make sure the sides have some fat on them, pour the batter over, and you get great results. Even if you pre-heat the dish, using cold sausages cools everything down.

So here's the batter recipe, no weighing necessary.

4 large, fresh eggs, measured in a jug
Equal quantity of milk to eggs
Equal quantity of all purpose/plain flour to eggs
Pinch of salt

Multiply as required.

The traditional way to do this is to make a hole in the flour, beat the eggs in gradually, and add the milk last, but quite frankly if you use an electric mixer it's not so important, just make sure there's no lumps. Make this ahead of time as it's best if allowed to sit for up to an hour before use.

The oven should be hot. Opinions are divided as to how hot, but what we do is cook the sausages at 170C, then turn the oven right up to prepare the dish (230C) and as soon as it reaches that, pour the batter over. Then after replacing it we turn it back down again. This seems to work magic on the batter, without burning anything. The time it takes to cook varies a bit, but it's done when the top is golden and the batter is set firm. Check after 20 minutes, anyway.

This should be served with gravy, and a vegetable of some sort. Peas and carrots work well. You don't really need a second carb, but men like potatoes, so we usually also serve mashed potatoes with this.

So, as a special service I'm going to teach silly people how to make mashed potatoes. Are there any silly people reading this? Maybe. A few months ago I found myself reading multiple opinions about mashed potatoes being a lot of work, or difficult, or some such thing. I confess I was confused. But for the sake of completeness......

Peel some potatoes. Two per person is about right. Cut into quarters.
Cook in boling salted water until they fall off a knife inserted into them.
Drain water.
Add a knob of butter and a splash of milk and mash them.
There, that was hard, wasn't it.


  1. I really don't like uncooked sausages going into a toad. They always appear to be so pallid where they've been under the batter waves. Yuk. I much prefer them to have colour all over.

    As for mashed potatoes - what the heck is difficult about that, except maybe the tedium of peeling the spuds? I usually make sure the milk is warm to hot before adding it - and always add a pinch of salt and some pepper, but the principle is the same.

    1. Yes! They look so much nicer browned!

      Well, I can't see what's hard about mashed potatoes, but I think these are the people who are so bloody lazy that they even have a pull tab on their microwave meals so they don't have to open the box with scissors.......

  2. Mashed potatoes are so hard because you have to find the parts of the mixer and a place to plug it in.

    1. Oh gosh, no. If you use a mixer you'll end up with glue!

  3. in all these years, you've never had Toad in the Hole while I was there...........

    1. My apologies, I'll put that right, but do remind me. I posted a photo on Facebook.

    2. I'll try to remember to remind you - LOL