Toad in the Hole. A traditional British classic. Fun to make and neat to look at, it’s like sausages encased in a giant popover and drenched in onion gravy. How can you go wrong with comfort food like this?
This is a “Make a Request” fulfillment for Tamra Oborn. Thank you so much for the request! It was a nice trip down memory lane for me.
I love Great Britain. Let me tell you just a wee bit about mine and Todd’s connections there. My husband and I both lived in England long before we met. I lived six years just 30 minutes from Cambridge, an hour north of London, and my husband spent two years in the Liverpool/Manchester area and in Wales. We both love England and regularly share many fond memories. And we both enjoy a proud British heritage on our paternal sides. Among other interesting ties, I’m related to the William Wallace clan of Scotland (think “Braveheart”) and am the 14th great-granddaughter of King Alfred the Great, which proud connection entitles me to…absolutely nothing. But it’s still cool to know.
Spitting image, wouldn’t you say?
Or how about this? See the likeness?
My most recent ancestors are primarily from Chester England and Wales. They’re the better looking bunch.
My husband enjoys a long line of nobility from Cornwall England. His last name, Killebrew, was originally Killigrew before being changed during the Revolutionary War, and he’s related to Sir Thomas Killigrew, a courtier, royal theater manager, and playwright to King Charles II. His most notable achievement was being the first to ever compile Shakespeare’s works.
Gathering from his expression (on the left), I’d say it must have been a pretty boring undertaking.
Todd’s Killigrew ancestors were also the builders and owners of Arwenack Manor in Falmouth, Cornwall.
In recent years the manor has been divided up into separate town homes and one recently came up for sale – um, yes I’ll take it, please!
Another ancestor is Anne Killigrew, an English poet.
And yet another interesting ancestor is Lady Mary Killigrew. By day she played the role of “Lady”…
And during what I can only surmise was British nobility “off season”, she played…
Yep, she was the first British female pirate in history! (Now had I only known he came from a family of looters before I married him…)
So we both share deep British roots, love the British isles, the people, the architecture, the culture, and both yearn to return for a visit.
Okay, let’s get to the FOOD now, shall we? This funny-named “Toad in the Hole.”
So what’s the history behind this dish? It’s silly name?
The origin of the name is unclear and highly debated. Some have suggested it’s because the sausages resemble a toad sticking its head out of a hole, but the jury is still out and this may be yet another unsolved mystery!
Its origin isn’t clear, but we know it’s been around since at least the mid 1700’s. It was noted that virtually anything could be baked up and disguised in this big Yorkshire pudding. The idea was clever and served as an ideal way to use up leftovers and tougher scraps of meat that would otherwise have been thrown away, though fine cuts of beef were also used and served in pubs and at home. Nevertheless, the upper crust of old English society snubbed and reviled the dish, considering it vulgar, uncivilized, and an affront to British cuisine. It wasn’t until the advent of the industrial revolution of the 19th century, when such values as frugality and time-management dominated, that toad-in-the-hole garnered respect as a working man’s dish and would join the ranks of other traditional English dishes that we enjoy today.
“Along with ‘bubble and squeak’ and ‘angels on horseback’ it captures that sense of playful eccentricity associated with British cuisine that we’ve all come to love. Indeed, the innocent referentiality of the name –– “toad-in-a-hole” –– evokes that syrupy Dickensian nostalgia for the good old days, when kids still played together in the garden and before our imaginations were stifled by the bottom-line. [Toad-in-the-hole] is your protein and your carb-heavy side rolled into one, baked to perfection, and doused in gravy. It requires only one plate, and there’s virtually always extra enough for a second helping. What’s not to love?” (Homo Gastronomicus)
And did I already mention that our 3 year old gobbled up his entire serving and then had seconds?
Yep, it’s that good. So let’s get started!
Prepare the batter first as it needs to sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.
Combine the flour and mustard powder in a mixing bowl. Traditionally, the batter is cooked with beef drippings added to the casserole dish. As you likely don’t keep those on hand, we’re going to cheat and just add a little beef bouillon instead of salt.
Add the eggs.
Add the milk.
Whisk for several minutes until the batter is perfectly smooth and airy. Let is sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature before using.
Now for the sausages. British bangers are ideal to use. Made with pork, mild seasonings, onions, and breadcrumbs, their texture and flavor is marvelous. Check with your local butcher. If you can’t find bangers, use any other good quality fat sausages in casings.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Rub the sausages with extra virgin olive oil and place them in a medium-sized, greased, casserole dish (about 8×11 or so). The smaller the dish, the puffier and higher the Yorkshire pudding batter will be. Be sure to grease the sides to prevent the batter from sticking later on. Roast the sausages uncovered for about 10 minutes on each side, or until nice and browned.
Pull those that sizzling hot casserole dish out of the oven (be careful!) and INCREASE the oven temperature to 450 degrees F.
Immediately pour the batter over the sausages. (I discarded some, but not all, of the fat first – traditionally you’d leave it all in for the flavor).
Sprinkle the fresh herbs over the top.
Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees F and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the pudding has risen and is browned. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for another 10 minutes or until the center is cooked through. (DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN during the first 20 minutes or the batter will not rise properly.)
Serve immediately with onion gravy (see “Note” in recipe box for recipe) and your choice of vegetable.
A recipe for authentic British Toad in the Hole - it's deeelicious!
- 4 British Bangers (see your local butcher or other fat, good-quality mild sausages in casings)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard powder
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- Onion gravy for serving
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- To make the batter, combine the flour, beef bouillon and mustard powder in a mixing bowl. Add the eggs and milk and whisk continuously for several minutes until the batter is perfectly smooth and airy. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before using.
- Rub the sausages with olive oil. Place them in a greased medium-sized casserole dish (around 8x10 or so. Be sure to grease the sides of the dish as well). The smaller the casserole dish, the puffier the Yorkshire pudding will be, which is desirable.
- Roast the sausages for about 10 minutes on each side until browned.
- Remove the casserole dish and increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees F.
- While the casserole dish is still very hot, pour the batter over the sausages (you can first discard some of the fat if you wish). Sprinkle with the fresh herbs. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the Yorkshire pudding has risen and is browned. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F and continue to bake for another 10 minutes or until the batter is cooked through. (DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN during the first 20 minutes or the batter will not rise properly).
- Serve immediately with onion gravy and your choice of vegetables.
* For a simple onion gravy, chop one large onion and one clove garlic, and saute it in butter over medium-high heat until soft and translucent. Add 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar and cook for another minute. Pour in 2 cups beef broth, increase the heat, and whisk continuously until the gravy is thickened. Reduce the heat to low, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for another 3 minutes before serving.