Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Evolution of "Toad-in-the-Hole".

I own one book on English cooking, and this recipe came from it, though I found it borrowed by Richard Olney and his compilers in his "Pork" volume in "The Good Cook" series Time-Life published in the late seventies. Jane Grigson collected this recipe in her "British Cookery".

One can imagine "Toad-in-the-Hole" appearing on a Dickensian dinner table. Or at breakfast in "The Secret Garden". It looks English. Simple, a little stodgy, just meat and bread pudding
without any French or Continental airs. I am not sure its inventor-whoever she was- meant it to include Jimmy Dean sausages, but I do live in Tennessee. Jane Grigson proposes partridges,steak, and kidneys as alternatives to the sausages. She even mentions that some have imprisoned lamb chops in the batter, but adds" This I do not care for quite so much".

1 pound of pork link sausages

3 tbsp lard or oil

1 cup of flour


2 eggs

1 1/4 cups of milk

Sift the flour into a bowl. Add a pinch of salt. Slowly whisk in the eggs and the milk, eggs first. (I encountered lumps at this point- persistent ones- so I pushed the batter through a sieve, and rubbed out the lumps.)

Put the lard or oil in the center of a 9 inch baking dish and heat it briefly in a 425 degree oven. Meanwhile, simmer the sausages, which you have pricked with fork tines, in very warm water for 5 minutes. Now place a layer of batter over the bottom of your baking dish. It should set a bit so one can embed the sausages in it. Pour the rest of the batter over the sausages and bake at 425 degrees for 30-40 minutes until the batter is golden brown. I confess I skipped the embedding part because I neglected to read every sentence of the instructions. This led to the toads trying to escape, and I had to push them back down into the batter. No matter. It still tasted good.

I think this would be great fun to cook with a child watching, or even helping. Just the name alone should pique interest.

This would be good on Christmas Eve for supper, or on Christmas morning for breakfast.

* A word to new or young cooks. You could do worse than to collect the Time-Life series "The Good Cook." It is timeless, and Richard Olney was chief consultant.

* Irma Rombauer has a version of this in her "Joy of Cooking".

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