Spicing Up a Classic English Recipe

18 Apr

…or, When “Toad in the Hole” Becomes “Great Horny Toads Pie” 

Great Horny Toads Pie by Michelle

A twist on "Toad in the Hole," Michelle's "Great Horny Toads Pie" uses spicy sausages and is served with gravy, sweet red yam, and an artichoke.

I came across this “Toad in the Hole” recipe when I was reading photographer Julia Segura’s food photography blog. This sounded like a great and different way to use up the last few sausages I had in the fridge. I had used the sausages with eggs and potatoes but I was getting tired of that and I had unfortunately succumbed to a sale price on a huge box of these super spicy, large links (and I gave half to my mom and her husband; lesson learned). It’s because of the spicy twist on this English standard that I borrow Yosemite Sam’s catchphrase to rename this recipe, “Great Horny Toads Pie!” It’s got quite a kick to it, which I hope will kick-start my metabolism as much as it did my taste buds. The pudding batter–called Yorkshire pudding–which produces a consistency slightly similar to quiche–serves as a nice balance for the hot sausage flavor. To further compliment that balance, I served the main dish with an artichoke and a slice of red yam on the side. Both of these vegetables have subtle, mild, but distinct flavors that offer a sweet relief to the spiciness. (And artichokes are in season–and on sale–right now!)

Great Horny Toads Pie

Total prep time: about 15-20 minutes

Total cook time: about one hour


– Yorkshire Pudding: 1 cup flour, 2 eggs, 1 cup milk, and 1 teaspoon salt

– 5 large hot and spicy sausage links, sliced

– 1 roma tomato, chopped

– 1/4 onion, chopped

– artichokes (one per person)

– red yams (1/2 yam per person)

– two tablespoons canola oil

– two tablespoons butter

– 1/2 teaspoon each of salt, thyme, and cumin


1. The artichokes take the longest to cook, so start those first. Cover them with water (it’s ok if they float around, just make sure there’s enough water to cover them if they would stay put on the bottom) and sprinkle in about a teaspoon of salt. Bring the water to a boil and keep at a steady boil until the bottoms of the artichokes are tender and the outer leaves start to fall off. It can take about 45 minutes or so. Serve whole with a side of a little mayonnaise, butter, or salt and pepper for dipping the leaves. [For more tips on how to prepare and eat artichokes, check out this site.]

2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

3. If you got the kind of sausages that need to be peeled, peel them. I sliced mine at an angle because I liked the aesthetic but you can slice them any way you like. In a frying pan, sautée the tomato and onion in the oil until tender and then add the sliced sausages; sprinkle with salt, thyme, and cumin. As this mixture is cooking, drain off any excess liquid into a smaller pan for making the gravy later. Cook until the sausage starts to brown just a bit.

4. While the meat is cooking, make the Yorkshire pudding. Blend the flour, milk, eggs, and salt with a hand mixer in a bowl and set aside.

horny toads pie close-up

Michelle's first Horny Toads Pie fresh out of the oven.

5. You can bake this main course in any baking dish you like but I prefer the look of the pie dish (I used a 9-inch ceramic pie pan). Take a room-temperature stick of butter and coat the sides and bottom of the pie pan. Drain off the remaining excess liquid from the sausage for the gravy in the separate gravy pan and then place the sausage pieces in the pie dish. Pour the Yorkshire pudding over the sausage pieces. Put the pie pan in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 400 degrees.

6. Turn the artichokes periodically so that they cook evenly. Microwave a yam or two (pierced with a fork for venting) for about four minutes per side or until you can easily stick a fork all the way through the center. When the yam is done, set aside, then slice just before serving.

7. Take the excess liquid from sautéeing the sausages and mix in about a 1/2 cup of water, a 1/4 milk, and a 1/2 cup of flour until you have a somewhat thickened consistency (you can adjust this ratio to suit your personal preference). Bring to a boil then immediately reduce heat to low. Add a 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and sugar as the gravy simmers over low heat. Whisk frequently to avoid scorching the bottom of the pan. Taste periodically and adjust the ratio of ingredients until you get the gravy exactly the way you like it.

8. After baking for 20 to 25 minutes, check on the sausage pie. It should be almost done and you should start to see the edges turning golden brown. Sprinkle a light dusting of sugar over the top of the pie. The sweetness will provide a nice contrast to the spiciness of the meat. Bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes until the top is mostly golden and the center has a consistency similar to bread pudding or quiche (total baking time should add up to about 30 minutes).

horny toads pie and gravy

Michelle's first Horny Toads Pie with gravy.

9. Remove the pie from the oven and let stand for a few minutes while you drain the artichokes, slice the yams, and finish the gravy. Slice the pie and drizzle each person’s piece with just a tablespoon or two of the gravy. Serve with the artichoke and yam.

My husband and I loved the balance of flavors that this meal provided. It also was great because it was so filling yet we ate more vegetables than anything else. Even though I was full, I felt good about how healthy this meal tasted–plus I was standing for practically the whole hour I was cooking, which burns calories. It was hearty and satisfying but still generally light–a perfect springtime dinner for anyone, especially people trying to lose weight.

Let me know if you make it and how it goes. Enjoy!

–Michelle :)


2 Responses to “Spicing Up a Classic English Recipe”

  1. Julia Segura April 18, 2012 at 9:23 am #

    It warms my heart to know that this recipe inspired you to make it, glad you and your husband liked it! :)

    • Diet Drop April 19, 2012 at 6:54 am #

      Thank you! We’ll be making it again, for sure. Also enjoying your blog. You are a gifted photographer. :) –Michelle

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