A taste of fine English pub fare.
It’s a hot and steamy Sunday night in tropical Queensland, around 31° and still sitting at 75% humidity. We are inside with the air conditioners pumped. Only a small house but what the hell, we have the two air-cons going, hot enough to justify it. Thoughts of dinner come to mind and well what can I say? You can take the man out of England but never the Englishman out of the man. Knowing he has some of Don the Butcher’s (aka, The Sausage king’s) thick pork sausages in the fridge, “toad in the hole” is requested. Maybe I should turn one of the air conditioners off, was it too chilled for him? I mean really. No way is the oven going on, not for any, feed the stomach love the man blah blah blah quotes, I’ve ever heard.
Then again I can hardly be called a Food Junkie and turn a challenge down, can’t let it lie, my mind starts to ponder. To make a good toad in the hole, or any Yorkshire batter dish, heat is the main key.
Hot, hot, hot. As the batter is poured in to the dish it must be smoking hot.
So the junkie mind pings and BBQ comes to mind. It is the answer. Everyone wins, as I do love toad in the hole too. The BBQ will not only give me the initial heat required but the lid creates the oven to retain heat and finish it off. All this can be achieved with our little house remaining at the temperature that one does really require, on a night like this.
To set up I remove the open grill grate from the BBQ and place the hot plate in the centre. Turn on all jets and place a small tray you wish to cook the toad in on the hot plate. I used a small cake tin 12.5 cm. Add a little oil, I happened to use duck fat, had some on hand, mmmmmmm. Oil or fat is essential to create a crust on the batter.
Now cook the sausages in the dish till approximately ¾ done. Turning regularly so not to burn any sides. Leaving the sausages juices amalgamating with the oil used is just going to give you more flavour and that’s never a bad thing. As any chef will tell you fat does mean flavour. Now create an oven by lifting the sausage pan onto another small baking dish, turned upside down. Photos will explain what I mean by this. Shut the lid and just get the heat back to temp. In about 5 mins lift the lid and pour batter over the sausages into the pan, shut the lid and turn off the 2 centre jets.
It’s now time to let the magic happen and try not to have a sneak peek….do I? Well of course. Just be bloody quick as losing heat will affect the result you are after. You want there to be crisp golden batter around the edges with juicy sausages baked in a sponge like batter in the centre. Depending on pan and sausage size takes around 20 mins. It is truly a divine dish any time of the year. Then simply serve with peas and gravy. A true old classic that has well and truly stood the test of time. Give it a go, you won’t be disappointed.
Toad in the hole
3-4 thick pork sausages
1 tbsp. oil or duck fat works a treat
1 whole egg, once again I used a duck egg, had some on hand. If not free range, please
200 mls milk
100gm plain flour
½ tsp salt
Pinch ground white pepper
To serve peas and gravy
Firstly make the batter by whisking the egg and milk together. Then add the salt and flour and whisk till a smooth batter. Let rest for at least ½ an hour for the gluten in the flour to relax. If you don’t the gluten will still be activated and the result will be tough and chewy. This goes for all flour batters, let them rest.
Then as described earlier follow the instruction. Make your BBQ oven set up. Turn on and get ready. Par cook sausages, rearrange BBQ oven. Pour over batter and let the magic happen.
Meanwhile heat the peas and gravy. Suggested condiments. French or English mustard or horseradish. Personally nothing else turns me on but if it does for you, go for it!
So yes one can have a touch of English heritage cuisine in the tropics. It is a dish worth trying if you haven’t already.
Simplicity at its best.
These dishes do not stand the test of time if they aren’t bloody yummy. Enjoy