If Yorkshire pudding is a pretty popular dish in the English cuisine, one of its variations has become nothing less: Toad in the Hole. Regardless of the unusual name, Toad in the Hole is internationally well-known, thanks also to Charles Elme Francatelli, an Anglo-Italian cook who talks about it for the first time in one of his recipe books dated from 1861.
For those of you out there who are curious about etymology of words, “toad” seems to refer to amphibians, in particular to frogs, as it resembles a toad sticking out his neck from the batter. As many other dishes though, even the origins of Toad in the Hole seems to be uncertain: it might have been existed already in 1757 when a Georgian shopkeeper noted on his diary of “sausages baked in batter pudding”.
Toad in the Hole is a great way of re-using meat leftovers, or some cheap meat worth to mix with a very humble pudding, in order to give it flavor, texture and protein.
The recipe below is Jamie Oliver’s version of a very simple yet outstanding English dish which could not go unnoticed for our Cook N Bake blog.
8 large quality sausages (or leftovers)
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 large red onions, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
2 knobs butter
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 level tablespoon organic vegetable stock powder, or 1 vegetable stock cube
For the batter
285 ml milk
115 g plain flour
1 pinch salt
3 free-range eggs
Mix the batter ingredients together, and put to one side. I like the batter to go huge so the key thing is to have an appropriately-sized baking tin – the thinner the better – as we need to get the oil smoking hot.
Put 1cm/just under ½ inch of sunflower oil into a baking tin, then place this on the middle shelf of your oven at its highest setting (240–250ºC/475ºF/gas 9). Place a larger tray underneath it to catch any oil that overflows from the tin while cooking. When the oil is very hot, add your sausages. Keep your eye on them and allow them to colour until lightly golden.
At this point, take the tin out of the oven, being very careful, and pour your batter over the sausages. Throw a couple of sprigs of rosemary into the batter. It will bubble and possibly even spit a little, so carefully put the tin back in the oven, and close the door. Don’t open it for at least 20 minutes, as Yorkshire puddings can be a bit temperamental when rising. Remove from the oven when golden and crisp.
For the onion gravy, simply fry off your onions and garlic in the butter on a medium heat for about 5 minutes until they go sweet and translucent. You could add a little thyme or rosemary if you like. Add the balsamic vinegar and allow it to cook down by half. At this point, I do cheat a little and add a stock cube or powder. You can get some good ones in the supermarkets now that aren’t full of rubbish. Sprinkle this in and add a little water. Allow to simmer and you’ll have a really tasty onion gravy. Serve at the table with your Toad in the Hole, mashed potatoes, greens and baked beans or maybe a green salad if you’re feeling a little guilty!
~Enjoy! (and if you go to Jamie Oliver’s website you can also see the nutritional values of this flavorfully rich dish)
Image and recipe by Jamie OliverL http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/pork-recipes/toad-in-the-hole