Toad in the Hole – comfort food for a cold day
The actual true origin of Toad in the Hole is up for debate. Lots of thoughts around poor folks stretching out a very small piece of meat into a larger meal is just one direction on this. Others have said this was to induce picky children to eat something ridiculous. Whatever the basis, this is a dish that has been around for a very long time. I ate it as a child, made it for my kids and now still make it for my family today. This is delicious comfort food.
Flavour is the key with simple ingredients for easy comforting food
Yorkshire Pudding is always a winner when served with a roast beef and all the trimmings, so why not enjoy it on a week night baked around some good sausages. When I say good sausages, what I mean is a flavourful, not too lean and not too spicy British style ‘banger’ sausage if you can get those. Why ‘bangers’, well really it’s because if you cook them to long, they’ll explode with a bang! I can attest that my maternal grandma was a devotee of that particular method of determining whether or not a sausage was cooked. Please don’t feel you need to cook sausages until they explode. It’s really not necessary! Overcooking makes them tough and flavourless. Twenty minutes in a hot oven will be just fine.
Herbs transform basic to best!
As well as tasty sausage, the Yorkshire Pudding batter is where the flavour can shine through. My recipe has you put thyme and mustard into the batter… you don’t have to, you can sprinkle herbs on the sausages, omit the mustard and make a tasty gravy. It’s all good. Herbs though, really help carry a flavour through a basic recipe and transform it into something just a bit better.
No peeking! Keep the door closed
The most important thing about make Yorkshire Pudding, whether it’s in a Toad in the Hole or as individual Yorkies to go with roast beef – is DON’T OPEN THE OVEN DOOR! Sorry for shouting, but your Yorkie batter will flop if you do. The high heat in the oven is what is required for the magic of the eggs, milk and flour to happen. Opening the door lets too much heat out and you’ll end up with a very dense and sad pancake-like thing.
Yes you can – homemade dinner on a weeknight
Try this for dinner one night. Tell the kids whatever you like about the sausages and their ‘holes’. Let them slather it with ketchup if they want. I prefer gravy, a simple beef gravy with some onions and Bisto base. You can also buy a premade gravy mix to add to water. No judgement, this is simple food.
- 8x British Sausages (bangers) or mildly seasoned sausages
- Olive Oil - just a splash
- 250ml (1 cup) milk - 2% or whole
- 3 large eggs
- 250g (1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon grainy dijon mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
This recipe is easily doubled for a larger crowd or if you want leftovers. This is basically Yorkshire Pudding baked around sausages. What could be better?
- Preheat the oven to 400F or 190C.
- Prepare the batter - this can be done with a whisk or if you want a much smoother "pudding' then use an immersion blender. Add the flour, milk eggs, mustard and thyme together and blend till smooth. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes, you can go even longer and it's just as good. If you don't know how much salt and pepper you like in a dish, take a small spoonful and put it on a plate and zap it in the microwave. This way you can taste the cooked batter and see whether or not you want to add salt and pepper without putting it all in right away.
- Put the sausages in the pan you're planning to use for the whole dish. I recommend a 9x5 inch roasting pan/baking dish that can go in the oven. Drizzle some olive oil over the sausages. I suggest that at this time makes sure the oil coats the sides of the pan/dish. I use a silicone pastry brush to smoosh the oil all around.
- Pop the sausages in the hot oven and bake for 20 minutes, you'll need to flip them half way through.
- Once the sausages are done, carefully remove them from the oven and pour the batter over the top. Try to not completely cover all the sausages... you want the little 'toads' to peek out of the holes. Yes, this is a dish that was meant for children!
- Bake the sausages in the batter for 20 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR!!!! This will cause the yorkie batter to deflate and become extremely sad and dense and not yummy at all. During this time, the Yorkie batter will puff up and become golden brown and delicous.
- When the 20 minutes are up, turn the oven down to about 325, you can peek now if you have to, but it only needs to be in the oven for another 10 minutes.
- Serve hot right out of the oven with gravy, mashed or boiled potatoes and enjoy.
I like to serve with mashed potatoes or even a twice-baked potato. Add some green peas or broccoli and you have a good weeknight dinner.