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
Recipe: Gordon Ramsay