Something to try when you visit a traditional British country pub. Undoubtedly one of the silliest named English dishes, no one is completely sure why sausages in pudding batter should be called ‘Toad in the hole’, but it has been for at least 300 years. Some say the dish resembles a toad sticking its head out of a hole, others think it was named after an old pub game called ‘Frog in the hole’, which involved discs being thrown onto a table with holes in, first recorded in 1787.
The name is the weirdest thing about this dish though; the ingredients are pretty routine. Basically meat on a Yorkshire pudding base, sausages usually served but historically some cookbooks say any stewed meat was allowed. An early recipe from 1747 even lists ‘Pigeons in a hole’ instead. Indeed, it seems that originally the dish could use almost any type of meat – except toads which of course are poisonous! Once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to cook although it takes practice to get the texture of the batter absolutely right. As with all English cooking it can be delicious if the ingredients are top quality, but tastes rather plain if not. This is why it is often served with onion gravy, plus the usual vegetables and potatoes.