TOAD in the Hole is a British dish consisting of sausages in a Yorkshire Pudding batter, usually served with vegetables and onion gravy.
Britain has lots of bizarrely named dishes from bubble and squeak to jam roly poly, spotted dick, stargazey pie, angels on horseback but the king of them all is toad in the hole.
It captures that sense of playful eccentricity associated with British cuisine. It started appearing on our tables over 200 hundred years ago, we know that the dish was probably created in the first half of the 18th century when batter puddings first became popular.
Sausages did not appear until well into the 20th century recipes, as most earlier recipes for toad in the hole called for any meat that was available, most often beef or any left over meat such as veal, mutton, pork or game and fowl.
The idea was clever and served up as an ideal way to use up leftovers or tougher scraps of meat that otherwise would have been thrown away.
The thrifty nature of 'Toad in the Hole' as it was commonly known, was a perfect dish for struggling labourers or penny pinching middle classes.
In medieval times meat was in short supply People in some poor villages took to eating believe it or not 'Frogs and Toads' they would often supplement the protein with a baked mixture of powdered grains to protect the delicate meat from the heat of the fire.
Children and poor members of the community would be given the remnants of the baked grain coating and be required to extract the 'Toad from the Hole'.
During and after the war when there were food shortages 'Toad in the Hole' was made with 'spam'. The origin of the name is unclear and highly debated, some suggest it is because the sausages resemble a toad sticking its head out of a hole, but the jury is still out on this and it may be just another unsolved mystery.
12 butchers sausages
600ml full fat milk
12 rashers streaky bacon
glass red wine
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp butter
1. Whisk briskly together the eggs, flour, salt and milk till a smooth batter, the consistency of double cream. Leave to rest for half an hour.
2. Heat up 1 tbsp olive oil in a roasting tin. Wrap one piece of bacon around each sausage. Seal the sausages(some fat may come out). Pour the batter mixture around the sausages.
3. Cook on 200c/400f/gas 6 for 1 hour do not open the door of the oven. I always check through the oven door window that the batter has risen high and the colour is golden brown. I also always give the toad an extra 5 minutes to make sure the outside is extra crispy, patience pays off with this dish.
4. Slice and Sautéed one onion in butter until golden brown, add the flour, and cook for a minute add the red wine reduce then slowly add the beef stock, until thick and shiny, check for seasoning.
The perfect pudding is crispy on the outside, light on the inside and a little bit of substance at the bottom.
'Toad in the hole' is a very simple British dish best served with Onion Gravy, sautéed savoy cabbage and creamed mash potato with a sprinkling of cheddar cheese on the top grill until golden.