Toad in the Hole Sausage and Cheese Bagel Sandwich
I love this recipe because it is difficult to screw up, it is quick and it is hearty enough to be put together for breakfast or dinner (we love breakfast at dinnertime). This one has a real brunchy bistro feel to it and it will impress whoever gets to eat it. We had these for dinner the first time I made them. I was feeling uninspired, thought about how delicious one of our breakfast for dinners was a couple weeks prior, and thought, well, I have breakfast sausage, eggs and a couple of bagels lying around the kitchen – let’s figure something out. By the way, I didn’t invent a “toad in the hole.” Traditionally, toads in a hole are single pieces of toast with holes cut in the middle and then eggs cooked inside that hole. I thought, "ah, what if I make it in a bagel and then turn it into a breakfast sandwich."
For each sandwich, you will need a bagel, two eggs, two slices of American cheese, a sausage patty, a pat of butter and a two pinches of salt and pepper. That is it. What makes this different than other breakfast sandwiches is that you don’t have to worry about coordinating several ingredients that will cook at different times and you also don’t have to worry about the dangerous and ill-fated egg flip. I promise.
What equipment do you need? A skillet with a lid, a spatula and an oven-safe plate or cookie sheet. If you have a stove, a frying pan and a flipper then you are able to make this. You can substitute a piece of tin foil or another pan in lieu of the lid. Most ceramic plates are oven-safe (check yours to be sure), but believe it or not, it is true. You will only be heating oven to 220 degrees here.
STEP ONE: First thing you do? Cook up those sausage patties in a skillet. What kind of sausage patty should you use? You can use the “Brown and Serve” kind (about three of those “patties” are equivalent to one normal sized patty), you can use loose breakfast sausage meat and form into your own patties, you can make your own breakfast sausage mix and form into patties or you can use vegetarian or vegan breakfast sausage. Sausage recipes are for another time. When the sausage is done, turn off the burner, remove the sausage from the skillet and set aside.
STEP TWO: This is going to move quickly now. If you are using the same skillet to cook the toads in a hole then you will want to allow the skillet to cool long enough for you to be able to wipe down the inside of the pan. Note: There are times when I empty a pan and just go ahead and throw the next ingredients in, this isn’t one of those times. Breakfast meats leave a lot of residue in the pan that you don’t want on your perfectly toasted buttery bagel. So, how do you get that perfectly toasted buttery bagel? Once the skillet is wiped down (or you could just use a different skillet if you have one), turn the burner on to medium high heat and add a pat of butter. Tip: If you are using a non-stick coated pan, be careful not to scrape a knife on the coating – this will ruin your skillet, use only plastic or silicone cooking tools in non-stick coated pans. Once the butter has melted down enough so that you can swirl the pan around and it is coated, put your first bagel in, face down. Now you will hear the music that something frying in butter makes in your kitchen. One pat of butter is not going to kill you, I promise. Lower the burner to medium and allow the bagel to toast in the butter face down.
STEP THREE: After about 30-45 seconds of letting the bagel simmer, slide the bagel halves to one side of the pan and crack one egg over the top of each bagel half. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper on the yolk of each half. Push the skillet to the edge of the burner so that only about half of the skillet is on the burner and the half with the bagels in it, is off. Cover the skillet and allow the eggs to cook on top of the bagel.
STEP FOUR: This is the one part of the process where you will have to use some cooking skill; you don’t want the bagel to burn and you don’t want the egg to fall off the bagel halves. If you can manage not to do either of these things, you have managed the most difficult part of this recipe. Tip: The larger the hole in your bagel halves, the more fool-proof this process becomes. You can feel free to cut the hole a little larger in both of your halves before placing in the skillet to avoid any issues. After about two to three minutes of the egg cooking a top your halves (the longer you let it cook the less runny your yolk will be), remove the lid and use your spatula to shift the bagel halves around in the pan, being careful not to allow your eggs to slide off the bagels. If the bagel moves freely in your pan and the egg looks to be browning around the edges at the base of your bagel and the eggs on top are no longer translucent, it is time to flip. Use your spatula to separate the bagel halves from one another, since the egg has likely spread around the bagel and caused the halves to attach. Separate the haves and flip, carefully. It is okay if your yoke breaks, use the bagel half to gather that yoke by simply placing the bagel half on top of it. Re-cover for about 1 minute. Use your nose to ensure that there is no burning. Again, slide your bagel halves to the part of the pan that is not right on the center of the burner to avoid burning.
STEP FIVE: Remove your bagel halves from the skillet and turn off the burner. Wipe down with a damp cloth (careful not to burn yourself) and repeat if you are making a second sandwich, if not, just set aside to be washed later. Tip: Never place a hot pan under cold running water. Have you ever wondered why some of the pans your mom used when you were growing up were all warmed and misshapen? This is why. Place the bagel sandwich on an oven safe plate and turn your oven on to 220 degrees. Now you will prepare your sandwich, which will go into the oven open-faced. Place one slice of cheese on the inside of each bagel half, placing the sausage patty on top of the cheese on the bottom half. Place in the oven until cheese is melted. Trick of the kitchen: Use your oven more often. Heating things at a low temperature often prevents the burning that occurs on the stove-top in these final steps, like when you are trying to melt cheese on a sandwich. Also, you can keep the first round of whatever you are making (like the first of two sandwiches) warm in the oven while you make the other. If you are only warming – turn your oven to 170 degrees. Here, if you will be making a second sandwich, start with your oven at 170 degrees to keep the first sandwich warm and do not increase heat to 220 until you place the second sandwich in the oven. You will have to keep your eye on the oven but the cheese should be melted on your sandwiches after only about 2-3 minutes of being in there at 220 degrees. FYI - It will not hurt your sandwich to put it in the oven before it is pre-heated, it will just take a bit longer.
STEP SIX: With an oven mitt, remove the plate(s) from the oven and turn the oven off. You can either move your sandwich to a different plate or serve on the hot one – just be careful if you choose the latter option (and be sure to warn anyone that you are serving). I would advise that you wait to cut the sandwich until ready to eat.
STEP SEVEN: Eat.
Accompaniments: The sandwich is rich and succulent all by itself. That said, a little ketchup or maybe some siracha ketchup won’t hurt served on the side.
Enjoy! When we had this the first time, George inhaled his sandwich before I was done with my first half and asked if there was more. Alas, I wrote out the recipe so now he has written instructions on how to create second helpings.