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Nowadays this British dish typically consists of sausage cooked in batter, but in its earliest incarnations in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (when it was usually called toad in a hole) various cuts of meat were used. Mrs Beeton, for instance, used steak and kidney, and recipes recommending the finest fillet steak are to be found, but often enough toad in the hole was a repository for leftovers. Even today lamb chops are occasionally found lurking in batter, and ‘sausage toad’ is the unappetizing colloquialism that distinguishes the orthodox version. The notion of secreting delicacies in ‘holes’ in a batter pudding goes back to Roman times, and in the earliest recorded uses of this actual expression in the eighteenth century they do not contain only ‘toads’: Hannah Glasse, for example, gives a recipe for ‘pigeons in the hole’.

Subjects: Cookery, Food, and Drink.

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