Cook the Book: Toad-in-the-Hole

Cook the Book: Toad-in-the-Hole

We all know that English food has a pretty bad rep—with dishes named “spotted dick” and “bangers & mash,” it’s not hard to see why. But I’m here today to defend the merits of English pub grub. Maybe it’s just because I liked sitting in the beer garden of The Turf pub eating hearty classic English dishes with a big pint of killer Old Rosie Cider (Strongbow’s too sickly sweet for my taste).They always warmed you up when it was a wee bit chilly to even be sitting outside and I loved every bite (and sip) of it. These kinds of heavy gravy-laden dishes are necessary for the heart’s survival—not in an arterial sense, but in the heart-warming, stick-to-your-ribs way that you need to get yourself out of bed and to the library after the third straight week of rain and clouds. Plus, even from a local supermarket like Tesco or Sainsbury’s, English sausage is really tasty (oh Cumberland, how I miss thee…).

Anyhow, I’ve got the folks at Martha Stewart on my side with their great brunch recipe for toad-in-the-hole from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The New Classics. If you’re not familiar with this English classic, it’s pretty simple and not as amphibious as it sounds—fresh English sausages nestled in classic buttery Yorkshire pudding (crunchy outsides, soft insides), baked, and then served with onion gravy. I’d make this recipe for brunch with some fried sunny side-up eggs or it could even be served for dinner with a side of mash or veggies. Apparently, the name comes from the way the sausages look like little toads peeping their heads out. Oh how cute—so now let’s find out where some of those other dishes got their names from…


  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or bacon fat
  • 5 English-style fresh pork sausages, casings removed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • Onion Gravy (recipe follows)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Madeira wine
  • 1 cup homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. 1.

    Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, 1/2 cup water, and mustard; season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the flour. Let stand 20 minutes.

  2. 2.

    Coat a 13 x 9-inch or 3 1/2-quart baking dish with the oil; heat in the oven 10 minutes. Remove from the oven. Pour the batter into the dish. Arrange the sausages on top; sprinkle with rosemary. Bake until puffed, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve with gravy.

  3. 3.

    Onion Gravy

  4. 4.

    - makes 1 cup -

  5. 5.

    Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the onions, stirring, until golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Cover; cook over low heat until brown, about 25 minutes.

  6. 6.

    Add the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in the wine, stock, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until thick, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

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