The names of dishes are always an interesting point of discussion. Since the beginning of modern cuisine, there hasn’t ever been a standard set regarding the naming of food. It’s an open game, anything goes. During our time in England recently, we encountered the whole spectrum almost immediately. Often it’s a simple and very literal description of the plate. Fish and chips with mushy peas, for example, you know exactly what you’re going to get. An example from the other side is Toad in the Hole.
Apparently named for it’s resemblance to a toad peeking from a hole, I don’t see it. Yorkshire pudding doesn’t look like a swamp, nor do sausages have the facial features of an amphibian.
Bangers in Yorkies would be a more logical choice, though you’d have to understand what bangers and Yorkies are. If your grasp of British English gets you that far, you probably already know what Toad in a Hole is…
Anyway, I digress.
Simply put, Toad in the Hole is a large, fluffy Yorkshire pudding with pork sausages baked into the mix. Top with a rich onion gravy and you turn a simple side dish into a meal in itself. This is one of the easiest recipes we’ve featured and can be done at any skill level – as long as you follow the steps.
Enjoy with a nice, cool ale. Vegetables on the side would probably be a good idea too – especially if you’ve been making our other recipes – but certainly not necessary.
Toad in the Hole
2 1/4 cup Milk
1 3/4 cup all purpose Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1 tsp fresh Thyme, finely chopped (dried will work)
8 good quality pork Sausages
Sift the flour into a bowl and make a hole in the centre. Add the eggs and mix into flour. Slowly add milk and whisk until smooth and well combined. Use an electric mixer for this if you have one.
Stir in thyme, salt and pepper. Cover and set aside, either on the counter or in the fridge.This step will make a difference in the outcome. More on that later.*
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Cut sausages into bite size pieces and spread around in a oiled baking pan or muffin tray.** Place in hot oven for around 15 minutes, occasionally flipping the pieces to brown them evenly.
Once the sausage is cooked and nicely browned, remove the pan from the oven. There should be a fair amount that was released from the sausages, keep it in there. Actually, pour a little extra oil into the pan, just to be safe. You’ll want a very shallow layer covering the entire pan.
While the pan is still scorching hot, pour the batter over sausages, making sure it is spread out evenly.
Put back into oven for 20 – 25 minutes. When the entire mixture has risen and has slightly browned all around, it’s done. It should look more like a giant tree fungus than toads in holes.
Remove from oven, let cool slightly, and serve with mushy peas and liberal amounts of onion and ale gravy.
*This is really a personal preference, depending on how you like your Yorkshire pudding. A cold batter will remain relatively dense after cooking, while a room-temperature one will rise and puff considerably more.
**Typically this recipe is prepared in a loaf or sheet pan and cut into individual portions. But it can also be prepared more like a classic Yorkshire pudding in muffin tins. Again, this is nothing more than either personal preference or convenience.
Onion and Ale Gravy
1 tbsp Butter
1 tsp Oil
2 small Onions, sliced thin
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp Thyme
1 tsp Sugar
1 tbsp Flour
1 cup Dark Ale of your choice
500 ml Beef Stock
In a small saucepan heat up beef stock, and keep warm.
Heat butter and oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Add onions and thyme, and sprinkle with sugar. Stir regularly until wilted and browned.
Add garlic, and cook for another couple minutes. Add flour and mix to incorporate the fat and oil completely. Slowly pour the ale into the mix and stir, scrape any stuck bits of onion from the bottom of the pan. It should thicken almost immediately, be sure to stir the mixture into a smooth paste and avoid clumps of flour.
Slowly ladle in beef stock while whisking. Once all of the beef stock is added, simmer for 10 – 20 minutes, stirring often.
Enjoy over Toad in a Hole or anything really.
This one is so easy, it hardly requires a recipe. But we’re here to help.
2 cups frozen peas
1/4 cup heavy cream
lemon juice to taste
salt and pepper to taste
Lightly simmer the peas in salted water until soft. Strain. Add peas to saucepan with cream and heat until warm, don’t boil.
Blend in food processor until fairly smooth, with a few chunks of pea in the mixture.
Squeeze in a little fresh lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
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