These tasty morsels are not necessarily as described on the tin. They are by no means derived from the Scots. The original “Scotched Egg” was a snack devised by royal cornershop Fortnum & Mason to fortify travellers leaving Piccadilly on the stagecoach for points west.
Around the globe, the Scotch egg has been hailed as the height of picnic sophistication and the benchmark of British gastropub accomplishment.
My research into this picnic fave revealed these humble eggs have caused quite a stir, leading some to be almost fanatical about them. David Constable, the self-proclaimed King of Scotch Eggs (?) dedicates his entire blog forevereggsploring.com to these humble savoury eggs.
So why does the promise of a soft boiled egg wrapped in pork meat & deep fried hold so much appeal? Well, the homemade version is a world away from shop-bought & it is worth all the extra time & effort involved.
Tim Hayward describes the evolution of the Scotch egg in his article for The Guardian:
“It’s fitting that the scotch egg was born as a travel snack from a posh grocers because to this very day you’re most likely to encounter one either in a motorway service station or in one of those morale-sapping trays of “canapes” from M&S. The “cocktail” scotch egg, tiny and enticing, offers vague promises of quail egg and a delicately fragranced forcemeat but is in fact a deposit of egg mayonnaise in a cornified pig-slurry cyst.”
A touch harsh perhaps but funny nonetheless. In fact, M&S have responded by bringing out a gourmet version as part of their Gastropub range which promises to retain a satisfyingly runny golden yolk when cooked.
A few weeks ago I had some left over eggs & sausages & a picnic coming up so what better use to put them to than this quintessentially British snack?
I happened upon this informative Guardian article “How to make the perfect Scotch egg” by Felicity Cloake. She had done all the hard work for me & road tested the various recipes on offer. I settled on Simon Rimmer’s version (recipe here) & adapted it with some of the ideas in the Felicity’s article. I liked Gary Rhodes’ idea of “double dipping”, which involves dipping the sausage-covered egg in the whisked egg, breadcrumbs, the egg a second time & finally the breadcrumbs. This ensured a well-covered Scotch egg.
I also took on the idea of spreading the sausage meat out onto clingfilm then wrapping the cling around the egg. It made it so much easier to evenly & fully cover the egg & avoided the sausage meat getting stuck to my hands in a sticky mess.
Step 1: Place the eggs, in their shells, in a pan of cold salted water. Place over a high heat and boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 9 minutes.
I had to hard boil these eggs as I intended them for mine & my friends’ babies’ consumption but they are best soft boiled so that you get the molten golden yoke ooze out when you cut the egg in half (see Heston’s timings in the Guardian article).
Step 2: The possibilities here are endless. Mix sausagemeat (any you prefer) with thyme, parsely, and spring onion in a bowl and season well with freshly ground black pepper.
Step 3: Divide the sausagemeat into four and flatten out on clingfilm into ovals which will cover the eggs.
Step 4: Run the eggs under water and peel away the shells.
Step 5: Dredge each egg in seasoned flour then wrap the cling and sausagemeat around the egg, making sure the meat is smooth and completely covers each egg.
Step 6: Dip & roll each sausage-coated egg in the egg, covering completely, then do the same in the breadcrumbs. Repeat so that you have two coatings of egg and breadcrumbs per egg.
Step 7: Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed sausepan until a breadcrumb droppped in sizzles and turns golden brown. Purists would specify an exact temp. here, utilising a sugar thermometer, but this method seemed to work well. Deep fry the coated eggs in the oil for about 8-10 minutes until golden and crisp. I turned mine over halfway through, similar to how you would fry a donut.
Step 8: Carefully remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place on kitchen towel to cool.
Here they are on location – om nom nom!
Once again I gave spoiled myself. Never again will I be able to savour a store-bought scotch egg with the same relish (except perhaps a taste of the original from Fortnum’s) & I certainly couldn’t lower myself to consuming those ghastly abominations found in the cold, dark depths of a petrol station fridge (except M loves them and there are just not enough hours in the day to handmake these every time!)
There are many variations to try. How about Hayward’s suggestion of a gull’s egg wrapped in a smoked haddock or flaked crab jacket? Yum!