With the games beginning in the UK, the British are more keen than ever to stage some kind of invasion into the living rooms of the world. No need to go all Paul Revere waiting for them to turn up though. With the economy like it is, the UK government would much rather you come visit them. But regardless of whether the opening ceremony and the weeks of picturesque helicopter shots do anything to persuade you , you won’t be getting over there any time soon.
So what to do in the meantime? Well, why not try a classic British recipe in the comfort of your own home: Toad in the Hole.
British foods can often come across as a little elemental and therefore basic, which has never done anything particularly good for British food’s rather poor image. Too many popular foods seem to follow the "X + Y" naming scheme: "Bangers + Mash", "Steak + Kidney Pie" and "Fish + Chips", and it’s difficult to get excited about them when presented like that. Of course, good cooks will put all kinds of clever twists into these staples, making for some fantastic dishes if you do visit the UK. It’s just that they don’t exactly dazzle in the brochure.
Toad in the Hole tries something different, by basically outright lying to you about its contents. You’ll be cooking no toads and there is arguably a lack of holes in the damned thing anyway. Instead, you’ll be working with sausages and another favorite of British cuisine, Yorkshire pudding batter. Before we get down to the recipe proper though, we ought to talk sausages:
A word about your options with sausages before we dive straight in and get a little non-specific. It goes without saying that the quality of the sausages you cook will have a massive bearing on the authenticity and quality of your toad in the hole. This isn’t a job for your canned sausages and frankfurters. A good Toad in the Hole sausage should be relatively thick, stuffed with herbs and plenty of quality meat.
Of course, the ultra-advanced way to do this would be to make your own sausages. On the plus side, this gives you the option of making sausages to a British specification wherever you are in the world. Negatively, this is probably for those looking for a challenge, or those who don’t mind the extra time investment. If you’re feeling brave, I have accompanied this recipe with one for a favorite British sausage, the sage dominated Lincolnshire sausage, at the end of the article.
Recipe: Serves Four
8 top quality sausages;
4oz plain flour;
4 large eggs;
1/2 pint milk;
2 tablespoons fresh thyme;
2 tablespoons mustard;
2 tablespoons lard (or Beef dripping if you can find it)
1. Starting with a large bowl, sift all your flour and add salt and pepper – a pinch of both should suffice;
2. Crack eggs into a well in the center of your flour;
3. Mix with a wooden spoon, slowly beating in milk until you have achieved a thick but smooth consistency. It may be necessary to pass the mixture through a sieve to eliminate any lumps;
4. Stir in thyme and leave to stand for up to four hours (half an hour is sufficient);
5. Your oven should be preheated to 400F (200C). Heat a large non-stick (or lightly oiled) pan.
6. Cook your sausages on the pan until golden brown;
7. Coat sausages in mustard;
8. Place your lard (or dripping) into an ovenproof dish and heat for five minutes;
9. Place the sausages evenly in the dish and pour in the batter;
10. Cook for between 35 to 40 minutes – the Yorkshire will look golden brown when finished.
Additional serving suggestions
ñ If you’re feeling uninventive after all this, simply accompany with peas and mashed potato. A knob of butter may also suffice;
ñ A traditional recipe often calls for onion gravy – fry 2 large onions in butter and olive oil for about twenty minutes, then sprinkle with a tablespoon of flour and stir. Add stock dissolved in 250ml of hot water, simmer for 10-15 minutes and season.
A recipe for homemade Lincolnshire Sausages
1kg (2.2 pound) Pork Shoulder
0.5kg (1.1 pound) Pork Belly
270g (9.5 ounces) chilled water
180g (6.3 ounces) stale bread (unless you’re able to get hold of the Butcher’s rusk we use nowadays in the UK)
Clean hog intestines (ask your butcher)
Seasoning consisting of:
10g Dried Sage
10g Corn Flour
3g White Pepper
3g Black Pepper
1. All meat should be chilled for 2 1/2 hours, and will need to be diced to be fed through a mincer;
2. Mix seasoning together until color is consistent;
3. Mince the meat (fine or coarse is your call)
4. Slowly mix meat and seasoning, preferably in an electric mixer with a K beater;
5. Gradually add chilled water until absorbed;
6. Mix vigorously until mixture is sticky (i.e. Sausage-like);
7. Mix in Breadcrumbs / rusk – let the mixture stand for a couple of minutes if it goes wet / soft;
8. Push the mixture into the casings;
9. Allow to stand overnight.
About the Author
Steph Wood is always learning something new in the kitchen, and is otherwise a content writer for UK takeaway chain Just-Eat, which helps when things really do go wrong.