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Toad in the Hole

 Toad in the Hole:
This is the tastiest and lowest cost dish possible. The sausages are for free (this week only), and the Yorkshire Puddings that go with this strangely named dish are easy and cheap to make...I should know being a Yorkshireman by birth.

But how did this dish get its name ??

From wilkepedia I learned that Toad in the hole originated in the town of Alnmouth in Northumberland. Alnmouth has a links golf course which can at certain times of the year be overrun with Natterjack toads. It was at just such a time, that a golf tournament was being played and the leader made his put only to have the ball promply ejected by a rather vexed toad that had been quietly asleep in the bottom of the cup. On hearing of the players misfortune, the chef at the towns hotel where the players were staying devised the dish, thinking it would resemble a toad rising from the eighteenth, and served it that night.

Dont you just love that ?? More commonly it's thought that the dish resembles a toad poking his head out of the oven baked Yorkshire Puds...but that isn't very convincing to me !

Preparation Time: 20mins
Cooking Time: 30mins for the Gravy, 20 to 30 mins for the Yorkshire Puds

For the Yorkshire Puddings - -For EACH person allow:-
2 heaped desertspoons of sifted plain flour
Milk and water 50/50 mix
Pinch of Salt
For the Thick Onion Gravy: 5 medium onions, cornflour, milk, stock, (Bovril if you have it).
Sausages: any decent Pork or Beef sausage, providing they are low fat. I find our Cumberland or Irish sausages work the best.


Slice about 5 medium onions and fry them slowly in vegetable oil until caramelised, which will take about half an hour. A teaspoonful or so of sugar will help the caramelisation (browning) process. The onions are done when they have reduced in size by about 70%, are golden to dark brown and almost coagulated in the pan. If the heat is too high then they will burn and taste as such, so be careful to put them on a minimum heat and keep moving them around every few minutes. The sweet onions you have left are gold !!  I often cook loads more than I need and keep them in the fridge for other recipes ( such as French Onion Soup, or Onion and Bacon Tart ). Now you add your stock (any stock will do, beef or chicken, packet or tin, home made or not ), until you have enough gravy for your guests. It will probably need thickening, which I do with a spoonful of cornflour beaten into some of the milk and water mix used for the puds. Once you have the consistency you like, season it and it is ready. For best results I always put a big dollop of Bovril into the gravy...but you could use Worcestershire Sauce or even Vegemite .... for extra flavour. Wine is not necessary, neither are mixed herbs, although you could add them if you wish...it's your gravy after all.

Fry the sausages for a few minutes until partially cooked. Remove from the pan.
Beat the eggs, flour and salt together until almost too thick to beat, which may mean more or less flour depending on the size of the eggs.
Mix 50/50 normal milk and water together, and add to egg mixture, beating all the time until you have a consistency of double cream. Set aside for half an hour, or better still for an hour. Just before cooking, if the mixture has stiffened up then add a little more water until you have the double cream consistency again. If you are using fat free milk then use just milk no water.
If you are making just normal Yorkshire Puds, the for best results use a multi cup cake baking tray, or if you don't have one then you can use any metal oven tray with sides, only you will end up with much larger Yorkshire Puds. The large bake tray is preferable for Toad in The Hole. Make sure the cavities or the bottom of the baking pan are greased or oiled so that the puds do not stick. Place the baking tray in a hot oven until it is very hot.
Heat up a good quantity of vegetable oil in a pan until smoking, and then pour about half an inch of hot oil into each hot cavity or tray. Immediately pour in enough batter mix to come halfway up the depth of the cup cake cavity or about 3/4 of an inch (20mm) in the oven tray. If making Toad in the Hole, then place the sausages in the middle of the baking tray with the batter in it. Transfer trays back to a hot oven immediately ( min, 200degC ). 
Now leave them ALONE and resist the temptation to see if they are rising. They will take 15 to 20 minutes to cook or about 30 minutes for the larger Toad in the Hole version, after which they should be nice and crispy....
Serve the Toad in the Hole or the simple Yorkshire Puddings straight away with the Thick Onion Gravy.
The mix of soft and crispy, combined with the thick onion gravy and decent sausages is a mix made in Heaven.....and taught to me by my Mother, whose Yorkshire Puds are a legend around the globe..........literally...

TIPS: The gravy makes this dish, as do Crisp Yorkshire Puds, which need HOT OIL and a HOT OVEN and a preheated HOT TRAY... A batter mix that is too stiff will not rise properly and will be stodgey.The onions need a very low heat for at least half an hour....