Toad in the Hole - an English classic
English cuisine is rich in culinary delicacies with strange names. Bubble and squeak. Pigs in blankets. Angels on horseback. Yorkshire pudding. Toad in the hole, also known as Sausage Toad, is a traditional English dish, comprising sausages in Yorkshire pudding batter, often served with onion gravy.
Forms of the same meal probably date back earlier, but toad in the hole itself first appeared in print in 1762. It has been described as a 'vulgar' name for a small piece of beef baked in a large pudding.
It is believed it was originally created as a way to stretch out meat in poorer households. This led to the rising popularity of batter-based dishes such as the Yorkshire pudding, which became a common way to feed a family at a minimum expense, combining a batter-based dish with cheap, inexpensive cuts of meat, game (pigeons and other fowl), or offal (kidneys), as well as a hot, filling gravy made for cheap yet filling meals. This is how toad in the hole was thought to have come about. Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery, 1747, listed a recipe for pigeon in a hole, choosing pigeon over the contemporary sausage.
Its simplicity and cheapness may explain its appeal to caterers as a suitable school dinner. It has also been a favoured dish at gentlemen's clubs and as simple straightforward pub fayre.
The dish was originally referred to as 'meat boiled in a crust'. The origin of the current name is actually rather incongruous, as there has been no record of toads ever being used in the dish, though the name may refer to the way toads wait for their prey in their burrows - making their heads visible above the earth in the same way the sausages peep through the batter. Another possibility is that the name is derived from a popular myth of the late 18th century in which scientists claimed to have found live frogs or toads encased in solid stone.
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