In an effort to liven up my blog–and because, quite frankly, I need to interact with other human beings, even if it is virtually–I’m linking up with a blogging group called BritMums. One of the lovely ladies who is part of the group sponsors a “link up” every Tuesday called, you guessed it, Tasty Tuesdays. Plus, I thought joining in would allow me to introduce some of my non-British readers to the delights of British food–and really, there is a lot of good British food!
The British have a reputation for boiling everything to death (cabbage, potatoes, meat). I think this is a relic of the post-war days when any food you were able to lay your hands on wasn’t the freshest or best. Yes, some of that boiling still happens, but they’ve come a long way.
For my debut recipe, I’ve chosen Toad in the Hole. I made it last week for the very first time ever, after having eaten it only once in my life, and fortunately, it came out well and my whole family enjoyed it. Don’t be scared by the name: it’s sausages in a kind of pancake-y batter (technically a Yorkshire pudding batter), baked in the oven. The American in me did say that it would probably be yummy with maple syrup as a breakfast casserole, though I expect many Brits would say that’s blasphemy and it should only be served with an onion gravy, mashed or roast potatoes, and other roast vegetables. Either way, it’s a nice comforting meal for a cold winter evening.
Why the name Toad in the Hole? The recipe dates back to about the mid-18th century, and with time, the reason for the name of the dish has become a bit of a mystery. Some say it’s because the sausages look a bit like toads peeping out of a hole once the dish is cooked, Another story says that the dish was invented in Alnmouth, Northumberland, to mark a golf tournament when a toad peeped its head out of one of the holes on the golf course, dislodging the star player’s golf ball and causing much merriment. For generations the dish was reviled by the upper classes as “common” but is now a favorite among the whole of England. During the war years, the batter was the perfect base to disguise tougher cuts of meat, and even, (I shudder to think) that cheap meat substitute, Spam.
Toad in the Hole
For the Yorkshire Pudding
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1 Tablespoon water
1. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add the milk and water gradually, beating with a wooden spoon.
2. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until fluffy. Add them to the flour mixture. Beat until bubbles rise to the surface. Pour the batter into a pitcher and refrigerate it for 1/2 hour.*
*Recipes vary on this last bit. Some will say to let it stand for 30 minutes, I did refrigerate mine but only for about 10 minutes, as we were getting hungry.
For the “Toad”
1. Brown 1 pound small sausages (breakfast-type) in a frying pan* until they are crisp and well browned. Drain most of the fat but keep enough to cover the bottom of a good-sized, preheated ovenproof dish.
2. Make sure the fat is very hot, then put the sausages in the dish and pour on the batter.
3. Bake for 10 minutes at 450°F. Reduce the heat to 350°F and cook for another 15 minutes to make sure the batter is well risen and has turned golden brown.
*I’ve also seen recipes that will tell you to cook the sausages in the oven on a high heat first, for about 10 minutes, then pour the batter over. I suppose the advantage to this is one less pan to clean up.