The GBK Cookbook
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Heritage Dish ... Toad In The Hole
by Helen Gaffney
Imagine a golden-brown pillow of light, crispy batter, soft in the centre and succulent with sizzling- pork sausages. Sheer heaven, especially when rounded off with a robust onion gravy and served with fresh seasonal vegetables - carrots and broccoli are ideal. Toad-in-the-hole is one of the quickest, simplest dishes we can create in our kitchens. It is a great recipe - and easy when we know how!
The ingredients are so simple that there is a fair chance that we would have all of them in our kitchen cupboards and fridges. This makes toad-in-the-hole one of the most useful stand-by recipes. It's perfect for the children's tea, for a tasty supper or a hot lunch and it is just the thing for warming us up on a chilly winter's day. All we need is some plain flour, salt, fresh eggs, milk and a little vegetable oil and, of course, some sausages!
Traditionally the friendly sounding toad was another good, filling recipe for using up leftover meat, but is now always made with bangers (sausages, in other words). But Toad-in-the-hole with lamb chops and kidneys instead of the usual sausages is splendid traditional fare, the type of food that once was served in London's chop houses and dining rooms. There are several variations around Britain. In Norfolk, this old-time favourite is known as Pudding-pye-doll.
When making this dish, choose your favourite brand of sausages or check out your local butcher's choice - he will often prepare his own high quality sausages. In addition, look out for the ever-increasing list of new varieties that are becoming more and more popular. You may even be lucky enough to have a specialist sausage shop in your area, in which case you will be spoilt for choice. If in doubt, just choose good quality pork sausage - thick ones in preference to thin. You need not miss out if you are a vegetarian, or are cooking for one, because you can make your own version of a 'vegetarian toad' with non-meat bangers - every bit as delicious.
Sausages in Britain must have at least 50 per cent meat - the rest being cereal, herbs and flavourings - all packed into a sausage casing. If you choose sausage with a higher meat content, more than 80 per cent, you can be sure of a better flavour. However, you will pay a premium of course. Why not try an unusual sausage variety? Look out for: lamb and rosemary, pork and sage, Welsh pork and leek, Lincolnshire sausage, pork and tomato, pork and apple, venison, chicken, turkey, duck, sausages flavoured with beer or wine and of course the many vegetarian varieties. The list is endless!
Whichever sausage you choose, you can enhance your toad-in-the-hole with a good gravy, such as Onion Gravy - add 300 ml (1/2 pint) of boiling water to cooked, chopped onion and stir in four heaped teaspoons of instant gravy granules - ideal when time is short. Some chopped fresh herbs added to the gravy will taste delicious - parsley, sage, thyme, basil or oregano - depending on which is best for the type of sausages.