TOAD IN THE HOLE
British cuisine is replete with quirky, oddly named dishes that may or may not have a concrete supporting story to them – Scotch Egg, Spotted Dick, Faggot, Pig in a Blanket, Eton Mess and Toad in the Hole to name a few. Toad in the Hole has a strange, countryside ring to its name like it has been named by a bunch of old fishermen drinking ale and beef by the river.
It is speculated that this dish did receive its name from the public, common-man, mass tongue and not from the royal, elite or the aristocracy. Dating far back to the early and mid 18th century, Toad in the Hole was conceived as a means to make use of meat in the household for a fuller meal with zero waste. It was economically sustainable and a product of generational culinary knowledge.
The earliest mentions of Toad in the Hole has been found in the book, A Provincial Glassary (1787), and the iconic Book of Household Management by Mrs Beeton in 1861. Several recipe books have hence suggested different kinds of meat as filling for the recipe, including beed, kidney, mutton and liver. A 1900 publication of Notes & Queries refers to Toad in the Hole as a “ a batter pudding with a hole in the middle containing meat.”
The Toad in the Hole recipe in its England persona is essentially sausages cooked into what we call the “yorkshire pudding”. A neatly prepared yorkshire pudding can be judged by its rise in ascendance. The Toad in the Hole recipe is just an added step of cooking sausages into it served with a rich onion gravy, hinted by its caramelised flavour. The recipe also calls for a rich salt and pepper seasoning owing to its meat content.
The pudding batter of Toad in the Hole can also be made into pancakes, apple or banana fritters, making the recipe truly a time and money saver since the old days. The batter can be made richer with added eggs and served with the following:
- Steamed broccoli
- Peas and Onion
- Glazed carrots
- Sauteed Kale with Cashews
- Mashed potatoes
An easy gluten free toad in the hole is a unique preparation that tastes just like its regular recipe counterpart. The gluten free recipe uses cornflour and store bought gluten free sausage as its primary ingredients and the rest retains the same ingredients as any other recipe. Several easy fixes for the recipes include batter mix for toad in the hole that can be made into quick but filling suppers. For dairy free versions of the recipe, soya milk or any preferable choice of milk substitute can be integrated into the recipe with no significant impact on the taste. For a lighter, calorie conscious meal store bought mini Toad in the Hole are abundantly available. They are also a great option for snacks and tiffin for children.
The recipe can be customised for a family of 6, 4 or even two, given the ingredients can be used in making different dishes. The batter used for preparing a Sunday night dinner of Yorkshire pudding can be used again the next morning to prepare pancakes and Toad in the Hole in the afternoon. The recipe truly places itself in an important position in the British cookbook for its modest, humble roots and bringing its people close to them.