But, in recent years, with the rise of the gastro-pub and a re-awakened interest in British food and its heritage, the Scotch egg is back on the menu, and it’s a million miles away from the supermarket versions of our youth. I guess what has made me re-consider my view is sampling Scotch eggs in a couple of London gastro-pubs which, are rightly famous for their versions. The Michelin starred Harwood Arms in Fulham serves up a Venison Scotch egg, the bar snack to trump all bar snacks it’s incredible, and deserves all the praise that’s been heaped upon it, and more. Across town in Farringdon, the also rather excellent Coach & Horses serves up a more traditional Pork version, which is utterly gorgeous. I’ve noticed that there are a couple of important similarities between these supreme examples of Scotch eggy’ness, and it’s what holds them head and shoulders above the rest. Both pubs Scotch eggs are the size of cricket balls, and more importantly – they’re served warm with the egg yolk just set, so as you cut into it…the silky, golden yellow yolk oozes gently out…
Is it getting hot in here, or is just me?
As you’ve probably deduced, I’m sold. I now love Scotch eggs, and wanted to try making them at home. Casting my mind back, I remembered that Gourmet Chick has a recipe on her blog, which she learnt from the head chef at the Coach and Horses himself and theirs are superb. What could go wrong?
Well, quite a bit actually.
After a moderately successful attempt the previous week where everything went right, except that the eggs weren’t soft and the amount of cayenne pepper used made them far too spicy for me (despite putting less in than specified in the recipe), I decided to have another attempt.
This time, I decided to make 4 Scotch eggs and I went ‘off piste’ a bit from the original recipe.
For the soft boiled eggs I decided to use a ‘Delia Method’ – which involves lowering the eggs into salted, simmering water – boil for 1 min…then turn the heat off with the lid on for 7 mins. Then plunging into cold water (This step stops the cooking, and also the grey ring forming).
So far so good, leaving the as yet unshelled eggs aside – In a bowl, I assembled the sausage ingredients:-
250g Pork Mince
½ Tsp Cayenne Pepper. (Still too much I think…1/4 tsp?).
1 Tsp Mace
8 Sage Leaves finely chopped
4 shallots, sliced and fried in butter.
3 Tbs English Mustard
Salt and Pepper
And for the coating:-
Splash of milk
Ready to begin assembly – I started to shell my eggs, and here’s where disaster struck…the wobbly soft boiled egg, perhaps slightly too underdone was like a thing alive as I struggled to get all of the shell off…. and then it happened, a fissure opened in the white, and the whole thing started to collapse…. But it’s ok, I have another three…. and then the same thing happened to the next one, and in between howling in pained frustration, swearing and spitting like a man possessed…the next one ruptured as well. At this point I was almost having an apoplectic fit…. and then what’s this? Against the odds, one perfect shining beacon of soft boiled eggyness emerges from the wreckage, the sweat and the tears….Hallafuckingeulah! I feel like I’ve just given birth to it myself, and a smile breaks out on my tear streaked face.
Surveying the wreckage of the three ugly mutilated brethren, compared to my one perfect, adonesque like super egg…. I decide that I may be able to carefully reconstruct them.
Setting up a triage system on my worktop, I identify the most seriously injured egg and begin work quickly and silently, piecing it slowly back together…. luckily, the injuries sustained are not fatal; the yolks on all three are intact.
After a tense few mins where I flatten a lump of the Pork mixture, onto a piece of Clingfilm – lay the egg in the middle and use the Clingfilm to help wrap it…before shaping into a sphere with my hands. I eventually have before me 4 Pork mix wrapped eggs, and they look beautiful, the outer layer belying the hideous injuries that lurk within.
Rolling first in the flour, then the egg (beaten with the milk) and then finally the Panko, I coat all 4 Scotch Eggs ready to be deep-fried.
I have a deep fat fryer, but I can’t be bothered to get it out…. so I decide to cook them individually in sunflower oil on the hob. They need to be deep fried at 180C for 2 mins, and I’ve read somewhere that if you drop a stale piece of bread in the oil – it will fry golden brown in 30 seconds when the correct temperature is reached. Not very scientific, but lacking any way to measure the temperature – I go with that.
Judging the oil to be hot enough, I lower the first one in. And it’s instantly consumed by ferociously bubbling oil. 2 mins later, I carefully lift it out…. a deep golden brown.
Into the oil goes the next, and I return my attention to the first one….I cut it in half, and – it appears to be cooked, and the yolk is still runny…it doesn’t look tidy, this being one of the casualties – but it tastes superb and looks right.
I cook all four Scotch eggs, and we eat three of them. All are OK, they taste lovely but all are a bit ‘untidy’…I’m not pleased with the whole aesthetic element…. I put the last one in the fridge.
Morning, a new day…awaking, and my thoughts stray to breakfast I remember the surviving Scotch egg, and decide to finish it.
Cutting through it, I gasp amazed, choking back tears of joy.....the most perfect Scotch egg this side of Scotchland is cleaved open before me. beautiful soft yolk, pleasing construction. I decide then and there that this shall be the ‘poster boy’ for my Scotch egg endeavours, and that’s why you can see only it illustrating this post. The other 3, despite undoubtedly being delicious, lurk in my culinary nightmares – and it would be too cruel to share that image of horror with you.
Sleep soundly dear reader.