Toad in a Hole

This is an English recipe, often served for breakfast. Legend has the name is derived from the resemblance of the sausages sticking out of the batter to that of a toad sticking out of a hole. The story goes that an English golfer sank a put on the eighteenth green to win a contest. However, as soon as the ball dropped in the hole, a toad sleeping in the same hole, annoyed by the golf ball dropping on his head, popped the ball back out. The golfer cried foul, but the competitors insisted this was just another hazard of the course. The dish was purportedly prepared by the club chef to commemorate the unusual event.

True or not, the story is good, and the dish is even better. This version came from a Williams-Sonoma catalog, and is meant to be served at breakfast. This version does not contain the traditional Yorkshire pudding; we consider that omission acceptable.

The recipe calls for Gruyère cheese. If you don’t have that kind of cheese, other kinds of Swiss cheese are an acceptable substitute, including Emmenthaler or Jarlsberg.

¾ cup milk

2 whole eggs plus 1 egg white

2 tsp whole-grain mustard

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt, plus more, to taste

3 Tbsp plus 2 tsp vegetable oil

1 lb. mild pork breakfast sausage links

1 red bell pepper, seeded, cut into ½-inch strips

4 oz. spinach

freshly ground pepper, to taste

½ cup grated Gruyère cheese

2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives

1. In bowl, using immersion blender, blend milk, eggs, egg white and mustard 1 minute. Add flour and 1 tsp salt; blend 30-60 seconds. Refrigerate batter 2 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 425º F. In 10-inch fry pan over medium heat, warm 1 tsp oil. Brown sausages 8-10 minutes. Transfer to plate. Wipe out pan. Warm 1 tsp oil in pan. Cook bell pepper 8-10 minutes. Transfer to plate. Add spinach, salt and pepper; cook 1-2 minutes. Transfer to plate.

3. Pour 2 Tbsp oil into 12-inch fry pan; place in oven 10-15 minutes. Stir cheese into batter. Remove pan from oven. Add sausage, bell pepper and spinach to pan; pour in batter. Bake 25-30 minutes; do not open oven door early. Garnish with chives.

Serves 4 to 6.

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