TOAD IN THE HOLE
People remember this recipe with love or hate. I used to loathe it – its regular recurrence on the fortnightly lunch menu at school meant an afternoon of hunger or queasiness to look forward to, depending on how little you managed to get away with eating. The school version consisted of the cheapest sausages and rubbery batter, all floating in a pool of oil. It did little to encourage affection. Nowadays I love it – it is pleasing, delicious comfort food at its best, and is simplicity itself to make. You are effectively surrounding delicious sausages with a Yorkshire Pudding batter, so other than the need for a hot oven, there is very little faffing.
Ingredients for 4
8 good fat butcher’s sausages – any flavour you like
2 tablespoons oil or dripping
4 bay leaves, 8 sages leaves or 4 sprigs rosemary (optional)
225g plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried mixed herbs (optional)
4 eggs, lightly beaten
250ml milk – full fat or semi-skimmed
Preheat your oven to 200ºC/Gas 6.
Put the oil or melt the lard in a deep roasting pan about 20 x 30cm/10 x 12 inches.
Add the sausages to the tin and put in the oven for 15 minutes or so while you make the batter.
Put the flour and salt (and the dried herbs if using) into a deep bowl, and whisk in all of the lightly beaten eggs. This is swiftly achieved with an electric mixer, but very satisfying with a wooden spoon or balloon whisk. At this point, the mix will be quite lumpy and very stiff. Gradually beat in the milk until you have a smooth batter.
Pull the roasting tray out of the oven and turn the sausages. Scatter the fresh herbs if using. Pour the batter in quickly before the fat cools down, and return to the oven. Cook for 30-35 minutes until nicely browned. The centre may remain paler and softer, but frankly this is just delicious. Very good with lots of vegetables and some good gravy.