This past weekend we hosted our friend Jonathan who was visiting from England and he was kind enough to introduce us to a dish that he grew up eating – Yorkshire pudding with sausages, also known as ‘Toad in a Hole’.
Even though the name of the dish was first recorded in the early 18th century, the origins of the name are still a mystery. It’s speculated that the name comes from the fact that the sausages look like a toad poking out of a hole. I can’t say that that’s the first thing that came to my mind when we took this dish out of the oven, but the picture on the BBC’s recipe did actually look like it since they used a much narrower pan and stood the sausages upright.
Jamie Oliver's Toad in the Hole (This photo: jamieoliver.com)
After much research we settled on the BBC recipe with Jamie Oliver’s (British Chef) onion gravy recipe but adapted it a bit based on how Jonathan remembered that his mum makes it.
Timing is everything with this dish – and the key is to get the oil in the pan scorching hot before you add the sausages and batter. You also have to keep the oven at 400F so you have to open the oven door as quickly as possible when bringing the pan out to pour in the batter and then when placing it back in the oven. To ensure that we kept the oven at 400F we actually cranked it up to 425F right before we opened the door to pull out the pan. We also kept the pan warm during the 30 seconds it was out of the oven by placing it on a gas burner on low heat.
Here’s the recipe – I recommend trying it on a cold night since it’s warm and filling. Definitely serve it with the onion gravy and a side of peas!
Toad in the Hole recipe adapted from BBC
- 115g/4oz plain flour
- large pinch of salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 4 large free-range eggs
- 300ml / ½ pint milk
- 2 tbsp/30g fresh thyme or rosemary leaves
- 8 good quality pork or beef sausages
- 2 tbsp/30g Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp/30g of beef or pork drippings or white vegetable fat (we used half the drippings from the sausages & half bacon drippings)
- knob of butter, to serve
1. To make the batter, sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the salt and pepper.
2. Make a well in the centre of the flour and crack in the eggs. Using a wooden spoon, gradually beat the eggs into the flour with a whisk and then with an electric hand held mixer on the lowest speed slowly beat in the milk until the batter is the consistency of double cream.
3. Strain and push any remaining lumps through a sieve. Stir in the thyme. Cover and leave to stand for 30 minutes, or ideally 3-4 hours in the refrigerator.
4. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
5. Heat a large non-stick pan and cook the sausages over a medium heat until golden-brown all over. (If you do not have a non-stick pan add a little oil.) Turn off the heat and brush the sausages with the mustard. Set aside. (For more even heating, roast in the oven)
6. Place the dripping or white vegetable fat into the thinnest metal ovenproof dish that you have and heat in the oven for five minutes or until the dripping is hot and hazy. Test the hotness of the oil by pouring a teaspoon of the batter into the dish. If it instantly bubbles then the pan is ready.
7. Quickly pull the dish out of the oven and place on the stove top over a burner on low heat to keep the pan hot. (Turn the oven up to 450 to ensure the oven’s temperature recovers from opening the door)
8. Add the sausages to the hot dish and pour in the batter as quickly as possible. Immediately return the dish to the oven and lower the temperature back down to 400F.
9. Cook for 35-40 minutes until well-risen and golden-brown. (Do not open the oven door to peek because the dish will fall!)
Onion Gravy recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver
- 2 large red onions, peeled and sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
- 2 knobs of butter
- 6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 level tablespoon good-quality vegetable stock powder or 1 vegetable stock cube
- ¼ cup red wine
While the toad in the hole is in the oven, 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 and the red wine. Allow to simmer and you’ll have a really tasty onion gravy.
For 20 tips on how to make Toad in the Hole check out this site.