09 April 2010

Toad In The Hole

The British seem to have a penchant for naming foods in the most bizarre manner possible, leading to such delights as spotted dick, black pudding, faggots, and bubble and squeak - all of which are familiar to your everyday inhabitant of Little Britain but cause the rest of the world to scratch their heads and, in extreme cases, point.

Toad in the hole fits neatly in amongst these stalwarts of British cuisine, turning out to be nothing more than delicious pork sausages, browned nicely under the grill or on the stove top before being popped into a miniature lake of fat and subjected to a nice hot oven. A very hot oven, if truth be told; it needs to be hot enough to make that oil smoke.

Eventually the oil will be smoking away merrily, with or without appropriate help from the impatient chef who may well get sick of hanging about and just stick the tin onto the stove for a while. However, at this point a more thoughtful chef will have used the ten minutes wait by beating together flour, milk and eggs to produce a smooth batter - you're wondering how much of each, and I have a fail-safe recipe that stipulates equal quantities of each, including the eggs. For six sausages, I've always gone with four eggs and worked from there. This resulting yorkshire pudding batter, which some may say is a little thick, is poured around the sausages and the whole thing is returned to the oven for around twenty-five minutes. Perhaps a little longer, perhaps a little less - you can check to see if it's golden brown and crisp when it gets close to the magic twenty-five minute mark, but don't be tempted to peek too early: a disturbed yorkshire pudding is a flat yorkshire pudding, and nobody wants that.

Remove from the oven, plate it up and add onion gravy and mashed potato. Before digging in, however, note how the little sausages look very, very vaguely like tiny toads poking their inquisitive heads out of a crisp and battery landscape. You know, I have no idea who first called it that. I wish I could shake their hand. Feel free to muse on how odd we English folk are as you chew...

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