Olympic spirits abound, we couldn’t think of a better way to kick-start this once every two year celebration of nation building and sporting feats than with a classic dish from the hosting country: Great Britain’s Toad in the Hole. Though my relationship to the mother empire is complicated to say the least, if there’s one thing that I can always appreciate it’s food. Good, simple food. And the English, not renowned for their culinary contributions and inventions (other than ‘burnt cream‘), have some of the heartiest homely meals. That it’s usually very meaty, think beef wellington and the Sunday roast to cornish pasties and steak and kidney pies, makes it all the better.
Toad in the Hole is sausages baked in a yorkshire pudding batter. It’s traditionally served with a good heap of onion gravy and your choice of vegetables. Like many food of working class origins, it’s economical and unfussy. Replace the sausages with other meats and it becomes a great base for your nose-to-tail ventures.
The recipe we used comes from Saveur, but I recommend giving Nigel Slater‘s original recipe notes a look. For the onion gravy, we replaced madeira wine for Canadian sherry and then added ketchup as a sweet foil to the savoury components. We also used a combination of bacon fat and butter (instead of the full 8 tablespoon of bacon fat) for the yorkshire pudding and replaced dry mustard with dijon mustard.
for the onion gravy
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 large yellow onions, sliced
1 tbsp flour
2 cups beef stock
⅓ cup Canadian cooking sherry
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp ketchup
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
for the toad (yorkshire pudding + sausages)
1½ cups flour
1½ tsp Dijon mustard
1¼ cups milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tbsp rendered bacon fat + 4 tbsp melted butter
5 large pork sausages, cooked until browned
1. Make onion gravy:
Heat butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat; add onions and cook until golden brown, about 30-40 minutes. Stir in flour, beef stock, Canadian sherry, and Worcestershire sauce. (Depending on how thick you enjoy your gravy, feel free to add more flour or cornstarch.) Bring the onion mixture to a boil; cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set gravy aside.
2. For the yorkshire pudding and sausages:
Preheat oven to 425°. Whisk together your flour, mustard, pepper, milk, and eggs until smooth. Let the batter rest for 15 minutes.
In a skillet, cook the sausages until browned all over for about 8 minutes. Once that’s done, pour your bacon fat and melted butter into a 9″ × 11″ baking dish and place it in the oven for 10 minutes until it’s sizzling. Pour batter into the hot baking dish and arrange the sausages in it. Bake until golden, 25–30 minutes. Serve with gravy and your choice of vegetables.
Note: Don’t forget to heat up your baking dish. Both the fat and the dish have to be piping hot or your yorkshire pudding won’t rise. If you’re using a cast iron pan, a good sign is when the batter sizzles as you’re pouring it. The same tip applies to making dutch baby pancakes.