Safe as houses toad in the hole
As you probably know sausages are a no go for baby led weaning as they are a significant choking hazard – but hang on, that means no classic toad in the hole – sad face! Worry not, my recipe makes sausage tasting pork balls that can then be surrounded by lovely crunchy batter, and so is safe as houses for little one. I have chosen a Cumberland herb and spice mix and have infused the batter with rosemary. It's a perfect starter meal for baby led weaning as the pork balls are flavoursome and gumable and the batter gives a little carb and calcium boost to the dish. The origin of the name toad in the hole is uncertain but probably pertains to the sausages peeking out of the batter, it's a reasonably old British dish from the 17th century but it managed to makes its way to one of the first Italian cooking books!
Makes enough for 3 grown-ups and little one
For the sausages balls
500g mince pork
1 egg beaten
2 ½ tbsp breadcrumbs
1 ½ tsp dried sage
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground coriander (the spice not the leaf)
Olive oil to fry
For the batter
285ml whole milk
115g plain flour
Optional – pinch of salt (batter really does need the salt, and the sausage balls are pretty much salt free)
A few springs of rosemary
Small amount of sunflower oil
1. Mix all ingredients for the sausage balls together and roll into small golf ball sized shapes. If easier, these can be made up the day before and refrigerated.
2. Mix all ingredients for the batter (except the rosemary) and beat for a minute with a hand whisk making sure there are no flour lumps remaining. Leave to rest for at least 5 minutes.
3. Fry the sausage balls in a little olive oil over a medium heat to brown the outside and seal the meat.
4. Using a oven tin of reasonable size to fit all the balls, cover the bottom in a layer of sunflower oil so it's around ¼ cm high up the tin.
5. Put the oily tin in an oven 220C fan for around 5 mins, so it's smoking hot. Carefully take oily hot tin out and pop sausage balls in and quickly pour in the batter (if the batter has separated give it a quick mix before adding to the tin). Place the sprigs of rosemary around the balls. Pop back in the oven for 20 mins. As tempting as it is do not open the oven until 20 mins have passed as otherwise you batter will not rise!
The sausage balls can be made up the night before meaning all you need to do on the day is fry them up.
The origin of the name toad in the hole is uncertain but probably pertains to the sausages peeking out of the batter, it's a reasonably old British dish from the 17th century but it managed to makes its way to one of the first Italian cooking books!