WHEN the weather starts to get a little chilly, I seem to have a craving for a really good toad-in-the-hole.

It's a weird name for a dish, isn't it, and nothing to do with holes, dirt, or even toads for that matter!

Mrs Beeton, the 19th century Victorian cookery book writer, does say this dish is homely and savoury and she's right.

The original recipe was a good way to use up any old meats that came to hand, making a wholesome evening meal for the hungry, hard-working family, and most butchers would sell off bits and pieces of off-cut meats to the working class after a day’s sales.

The phrase toad-in-the-hole was a way of stretching meat – any meat – a bit further, with a filling and thrifty batter which meant you could get away with using a small amount of meat if you had enough batter and good gravy, making it a true Yorkshire dish!

Today's modern recipes stick with sausages. For a good toad I would recommend using a nice British pork butcher’s sausage or a spicy and herby Lincolnshire, or maybe a peppery Cumberland which always goes down well at our house.

If you want to be more adventurous and make a posher version like its cousin – ''pigs in blankets'' – this can be made by wrapping good bacon around the sausages.

But before we cook this recipe a tasty batter is order of the day, and I'm sure living in ‘God’s Own County’ most families will have a treasured Yorkshire pudding recipe at the back of the kitchen drawer, handed down through family I bet.

If not, it can take a little work to get right - milk or water for a light, crisp result or maybe a pale ale for a manly food-heaven flavour?

You see, a good batter must rise over the sausages and completely encase them giving the perfect crisp top and soft, slightly gooey interior.

I would suspect this is down to using good eggs and resting the batter to allow the starch cells in the flour to swell a little.

Other recipes suggest getting the roasting tin spitting hot like we do for the Sunday roast Yorkshire puddings, which is essential for a crisp base.

The fats being used can be lard or dripping, but realistically thinking, today’s eating habits would suggest using a good gulp of sunflower or olive oil, which works just as well. But it must be smoking hot so the batter sizzles as it hits it in the tin.

Part-cook the sausages first in the roasting tin before quickly pouring over the rested batter – then bake till set, and not sticky or runny.

This is a meal that is meant to go in the middle of the table for everyone to help themselves to, accompanied with good homemade onion gravy. This can be spooned over some simple vegetables like mashed potatoes, honey-glazed carrots or cabbage.

Who said toad in the hole was a waste of good sausages? Not me!