Like anyone else, I’m kinda given to cooking ruts. My inclination is to slap steaks, chops, pasta, and variations of green beans and tomato salad in front of peeps, and nobody complains, so I rarely deviate. But it makes for FN boring cooking (and FN boring reading about cooking, natch).
So when I blew up my router vacuuming (don’t ask), and a trusted friend of mine popped in remotely and fixed it lickety-split, I figured I owed the man some eats, and told him to name his dish.
We were chatting online, so I couldn’t see him, but I could practically hear the smile spread across his face. “Toad in the Hole,” he said. “Con Curry.”
A little background on this guy--Japanese-style curry is his lube/eats-cornerstone of choice. For Curry Fiend, there is no food that can’t be improved with a cloak of spicy brown, and there is no meal he’d prefer over a steaming plate of katsu curry.
His request was not as strangely fusion-disastrous as it sounds...Toad in the Hole is browned sausages enveloped in Yorkshire pudding, generally served with squishy peas, mashed potatoes and onion gravy. Topping it with curry and pairing it with rice seemed a bare half-step from its Brit comfort food origins, and given the rapidly apparent fall chill, it felt totally seasonally appropo.
Why is called Toad in the Hole? Well, a theory is, the sausages (or scraps of cheap meat, in oldsy-timesy days) poking out of the popover-like Yorkshire pudding mimics a toad peeking out of a hole in the ground. Nummers.
Unappetizing name aside, this is one of those clever dishes meant to stretch the resources of working folk, the way so many comfort foods are.
Doing the requisite recipe homework (and a whole bunch of UK to US unit conversions), I found there was a pretty wide margin of egg-to flour ratios, and huge cooking temperature discrepancies (400-475 degrees F), but the key ingredients and principles were simple and consistent.
I leaned pretty hard on Jamie Oliver’s recipe as the foundation, but worked in a couple of additions that I liked from UK-based food bloggers, like spiking the batter with a little mustard, and sauteing onions alongside the destined-to-be-encapsulated-sausages.
Notta lotta English sausage eaters/makers in my hood, so I went with 5 hot Italian links and 5 organic chicken apple links. I noticed that some of the accompanying “traditional” onion gravy recipes weren’t so much brown gravy as jam-accented reductions; rather like eating Swedish meatballs with lingonberry jam.
As a nod to that idea, once my gravy onions were caramelized, I thinned the packaged S&B Curry cubes (YAY packaged convenience foods!!!) with Magners for a bit of dry-sweet boost.
I have a bit of apprehension with all things that require rising in general (I’m a confessed fluff FAILURE!!!), and cooking new things for company in particular--after all, Yorkshire pudding (like most traditional Brit recipes) carries big ol’ connotations of mystery and difficulty. But I was happy with the poppin' fresh results, and it was way harder to think about than it was to toss together.
Besides, watching the Curry Fiend happily con curry his toads made it totally worthwhile. I (and he!) only wish I’d made two pans, to up the hole-to-toad ratio and produce leftovers (which we were sorely lacking!).
Title Footnote*: I HATE the term "fusion", too, but as the Curry Fiend pointed out, that's just plain what it is. You can't get mad at me until I start overcharging people and pretending I'm Jeezus.
Toad in the Hole con Onion Curry
Adapted by An Effing Foodie
Cobbled together from:
Feeds 4 peeps w/ the assumption of 1 side, or 6 peeps with the assumption of 2+ sides
For the batter:
- 1 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 eggs
- 1 TBSP mustard (I used whole-grain; in retrospect, Coleman's Mustard powder would be totally appropo.)
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the toads & curry:
- light olive oil (higher smoke point than virgin or extra-virgin)
- 6-10 large, good-quality sausages
- 2 large onions, sliced thin
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 portions/"cubes" S&B Curry Mix
- 1 (12-oz) bottle Magners Hard Cider
- 4 1/2 cups water (or 6 cups water, no cider, if you're not feeling flush)
Serving Suggestions: I went with white (short grain!) rice and garlicky spinach, with a Magners-spiked apple crisp a la mode for dessert. (Don't judge! Cider works in mysterious ways!)