Toad-in-the-hole is a traditional English dish, usually eaten in colder months and best served with a warming onion gravy (sauce). The origin of the name ‘toad in the hole’ is unclear but is often thought to refer to the sausages peeking out through the gaps in the batter. It was probably first eaten no earlier than the first half of the 18th century, when batter dishes first became popular in England. Although in those times, the meat used may not necessarily have been sausages and could have been beef, veal, mutton, pork or game roasted, boiled or salted.
Whatever the origins, it is now definitely a much loved dish, and one that reminds me of my school days, when we would regularly be served Toad-in-the-hole for lunch.
I like it for many reasons – firstly, because any dish that contains sausages is usually a winner in my books, but also because it is a quick and easy way to prepare something, which feels a little bit special. I always feel a sense of excitement when I put the uncooked batter into the oven, waiting in anticipation to see how high it will rise. I am from the school of though that believes the higher the batter the better. And, I have spent a long time trying to find the perfect dish and the perfect batter mix.
The gravy is equally important – it shouldn’t overshadow the flavour of the sausage and it shouldn’t cover the batter too much, as I like the batter to still have some crunch when you take a bite. But yet, the gravy must also have enough onions and enough depth that it still tastes absolutely delicious and could stand alone if it had to.
So you see, what seems like a simple dish, actually has a lot of complexities (if you want it to) and yet, despite all of this, it is still basically just sausages in batter. And who can go wrong with that!
Give this dish a try if you have never cooked or eaten it before. You won’t be disappointed and soon like me, perhaps you too will be searching for the perfect dish to make your batter rise to the sky!
OTV Cuisine: Toad in the hole
- 2 tablespoons oil (I used olive oil)
- 8 thick pork sausages
- 150g plain flour
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- 2 large eggs
- 150ml milk
- 20g butter or oil
- 2 onions, peeled and finely sliced
- salt and pepper
- 1 ½ tablespoons plain flour
- 300ml chicken stock / maggi cube dissolved in 300ml water
- 1 teaspoon mustard (I used English mustard)
- 1-2 tablespoons redcurrant jam (optional)
- few dashes of Worcestershire sauce (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 200°
- Spoon the oil (I used olive oil) into a 1.5 litre baking dish and tilt the dish to oil the base evenly.
- Add the sausages and toss well to coat.
- Bake in the hot oven for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, to make the batter, put the flour, salt, eggs and milk into a blender or food processor.
- Blend for a couple of minutes until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides after a minute, to loosen any clumps of flour.
- Take the sausages out of the oven and pour the batter all around them.
- Return to the oven and bake for another 30 minutes until the batter has risen dramatically and is golden brown.
- Meanwhile, make the gravy.
- Melt the butter or heat up the oil in a saucepan and add the onions with some seasoning.
- Sweat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 8-10 minutes until they are soft and translucent.
- Add the flour and stir for another couple of minutes.
- Gradually stir in the stock and bring to a simmer.
- Add the mustard, redcurrant jam (if using) and Worcestershire sauce (if using) to taste.
- Simmer until the gravy has thickened to a light coating consistency.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
- When ready, remove the toad in the hole from the oven and let stand for a few minutes before serving with the gravy.
Recipe: Gordon Ramsay