I’m an Anglo- and Hiberno-phile (a lover of things English and Irish, that is). I’ve been to Ireland twice and I have seen Toad in the Hole on a few pub menus, but I never ordered it. For whatever reason, one day I remembered it on the way home from work…sausages in a pastry with gravy. How can that be bad? It can’t. It’s one of the best dishes ever on an autumnal or wintery evening. I mean, just look at it! It’s just tits!
When I remembered the dish, I started doing some research. I found a few recipes and sort of blended them all together (if you want the individual ones, let me know and I will look them up). Toad in the Hole is traditionally made with bangers, English pork sausages made with breadcrumbs. They are just not found around the central coast of California, except for one butcher in Arroyo Grande, who makes exceptional ones. So, I thought that perhaps chicken and apple sausage might work (I use Aidell’s from the supermarket…foodies can piss off). Indeed, they do work famously, and I have thus created a new California/ English/ Irish fusion comfort food I actually call “Cock in the Hole” because of its chicken sausage.
This post, by the way, is a revised version of one of the first recipes I posted, which I altogether called “Cock in the Hole,” but I think I put some people off with the title. I have to admit, though, the search terms that brought up my blog because of that title were worth it. People search for some weird shit on the internet, let me tell you.
It might look daunting, but it’s totally easy. The readiness is all.
Toad in the Hole
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter melted
3 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon canola oil (or something equivalent)
1 pound of cooked chicken and apple sausages (or whatever your little heart desires in the sausage category) *Note: if you use uncooked sausages, brown them in a pan first to make sure they get cooked through!
For the gravy, you need:
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon of oil
1 teaspoon of superfine sugar or regular sugar
2 cups vegetable stock
2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon of mustard powder
2 teaspoons of flour
salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together the flour, salt and pepper, and then make a well in the center of it. In the well, pour the melted butter, beaten eggs, and milk, and whisk it until it’s smooth like a pancake batter. Cover it and let it sit for about 30 minutes.
Make sure you have two racks in your oven. When you’re ready, coat an 8 x 12 baking dish with the tablespoon of oil, put it in the oven, and preheat the oven to 425° F (the dish and oil will be piping hot when you put in the sausages and batter).
Toss the sliced onions with the sugar and oil, and put them in a single layer on a baking sheet. When the oven is ready, put the onions on the top rack. In the heated baking dish on the bottom rack, carefully place the sausages in there and watch so you don’t get splattered. (If you are using uncooked sausages, make sure to brown them first before you put them in the oven pan!) Spoon the batter over the sausages in the dish evenly, scraping the bowl so everything is used. Close the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile for the gravy, heat the stock (or make the stock from bullion cubes) and add the Worcestershire sauce and the mustard powder to it, mixing well.
After 15 minutes, remove the onions, which should be roasted and brown and even black in some parts. In a saucepan, heat a teaspoon of oil and add the onions and the flour. Cook it about a minute or two until it’s paste-y, and then start adding the stock little by little, scraping up the bits on the bottom of the pan. After all of the stock is added, let it simmer and thicken until the Toad (or Cock depending on the sausage and your sauciness) is ready. Season it with salt and pepper to taste.
(Note: I made a half version of a Toad in the Hole in these pictures, obviously.)
After the 30 minute timer goes off, it should be golden brown and fairly firm, as the picture above shows. Let it rest a few minutes, and then slice the Toad between the sausages, and serve with gravy with which to smother it.
I love roasted potatoes and green beans smothered in the gravy with it. Britons say that mashed potatoes are the key. Whatever blows you hair back will work fine.
Drink: Beer makes this heavenly, especially a Bass or a Harp.
One of the best parts of being American is that I get to simulate, interpret, and amalgamate. I have served this to people and they have been blown away. They might say it’s an inside-out hot dog, but I think that’s oversimplifying, like we Americans tend to do. In any case, this has become a regular menu item in our house, and perhaps it will be in your house too.
Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.
©Jon Marino 2013