Sunday, 22 April 2012

Toad in a Hole

I came home the other night with plans to make pasta for supper but found, instead, that my husband had taken some sausages out of the freezer to thaw.  Toad in a Hole was the request of the day so that’s what we had.  I can make pasta any time.

Toad in a Hole is a British dish, named for the way the sausages in the pan are nestled into the eggy batter that surrounds them.   It’s certainly not diet fare – lots of sausage and oil in this recipe – but it is flavourful and inexpensive.  I wouldn’t eat it all the time, but it’s a nice homely meal that we do enjoy once in a while.  My fella considers it a real treat.

Traditionally, the sausages for Toad in a Hole are put into the pan raw and cooked entirely in the oven.  I prefer to simmer them first.  Simmering helps to ensure that the sausages are cooked through, and it renders off some of the fat.

To pre-cook the sausages, I pierce the casings in several places with the tip of a paring knife, then place the sausages in a large pan and cover them with cold water.  I bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.  I let the sausages simmer until they’re cooked through.  (The time this takes will vary depending upon the type of sausage you’re cooking.)

When the sausages are cooked, I remove them from the simmering water and drain them on paper towel.  It's a good idea to blot them dry, so there’s no water clinging to the outside of the casings.  Keep the water.  There’s flavour there.  It can be used to flavour stocks or sauces.

I cut the sausages I'll use in my Toad in a Hole in half because the smaller pieces fit more easily into my pan but if you prefer to leave them whole, that's fine too.

Once the sausages are cooked and drained, you’re ready to make the dish.  To make Toad in a Hole, you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup canola oil (or other neutral flavoured oil that has a reasonably high smoking point)
  • 1 pound of sausages, prepared as explained above
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup milk, heated to lukewarm in the microwave
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • pepper or other seasonings to taste 

Heat your oven to 400˚F. 

When the oven is heated, pour the oil into a metal bread pan and place the pan in the oven.  Heat the oil until it’s very hot.  A good way to test the oil’s heat is to put the handle of a wooden spoon into the pan.  If, when the tip of the handle is resting on the bottom of the pan, small bubbles rise through the oil around it, you know that the oil is the right temperature.

When the oil is hot, arrange the sausages in the pan.  (If they don't all fit, that's okay. Just pop it in the fridge and use it in another dish.)  Put the pan back into the oven until the sausages are hot and have begun to take on some colour.

While the sausages are heating, combine the eggs, milk, flour, salt, and other seasonings in a blender and mix them until the batter is very smooth. 

Remove the sausages from the oven and pour the batter over them. The oil in the pan will rise to the top.

Return the pan to the oven as quickly as possible and cook the Toad in a Hole for 25 to 30 minutes.  Don’t open the oven until the batter is browned and set because changes in temperature may cause it to fall.  When it's done, it will look something like this:

Serve Toad in a Hole as soon as it comes out of the oven, either plain or with gravy. 

Since I have the oven going anyway, I often serve this dish with roasted vegetables.  This week I served it with roasted carrots and broccoli.  It was yummy.

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