Scotch Eggs

Perfect picnic food, Scotch eggs are popping up on menus everywhere from Wellington’s Field & Green to London’s seriously cool Grain Store.

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photo: Aaron McLean

It’s all part of the food circle of life. Like so many things, they are best when deep fried, but if you don’t fancy that, you can give them a drizzle with oil and bake them in a 200C oven for 15 minutes, though you won’t get the lovely golden colour.

On deep frying, if you don’t have a deep fryer, please buy a thermometer if you want a perfect result. It is pretty hard to judge the temp of the oil without one. I’ve based my classic on Felicity Cloakes from the Guardian in the UK. I use plain freerange pork sausages as it’s hard to find free range sausage meat. You can easily embellish this recipe by using your favourite flavoured sausage such as pork and fennel or fresh chorizo for a spicy version.

The Classic
Makes 4

6 free range eggs
200g free range pork sausages
200g free range pork mince
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped sage
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
1 teaspoon mustard powder or 1 tablespoon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
Splash of milk
50g flour
100g panko breadcrumbs
Sunflower oil, to fry

Put four of the eggs into a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes, then put straight into a large bowl of iced water for at least 10 minutes. Split open the sausages and discard the skin. Put in a bowl with pork mince, the herbs, mustard and salt and season to taste with pepper. Combine really well using your hands. Divide into four. Carefully peel the eggs. Beat the two raw eggs together in a bowl with a splash of milk. Put the flour in a second bowl and season with salt and pepper. Put the breadcrumbs into a third bowl. Put a square of plastic wrap on the bench and dust with flour. Put one of the meatballs in the centre, and flour lightly, then put another square of plastic wrap on top. Roll out the meat until large enough to encase an egg and remove the top sheet of plastic wrap. To assemble, roll one peeled egg in flour, then put in the centre of the meat. Bring up the sides of the film to encase it, and smooth it evenly over the egg to encase fully. Dip each egg in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs, then again in the egg and then breadcrumbs. Chill until needed. Fill a large saucepan or deep fryer to one third full with oil, and heat to 170C.
Cook the eggs a couple at a time, for 5 minutes, until crisp and golden, then drain on kitchen paper before serving immediately or at room temperature later (they keep well for a couple of days in the fridge).

The Manchester
Makes 4

This uses a pickled egg to which I like to add beetroot for a full-on colour surprise; also the beetroot makes a great pickle on the side. Start this the day before for best results.

6 free range eggs
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon rock salt
1 tablespoon sugar
125mls water
1 small beetroot, grated
240g black pudding
160g free range pork sausage
Splash of milk
50g flour
100g panko breadcrumbs
Sunflower oil, to fry

Put four of the eggs into a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for five minutes, then put straight into a large bowl of iced water for at least 10 minutes. In a saucepan heat the vinegar, salt, sugar and water together until boiling. Remove from the heat and add the beetroot and leave to cool. Add the eggs and refrigerate up to 4 hours or overnight. To assemble, bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Add the black pudding and simmer for 2 minutes to soften. Drain and allow to cool, then split open the black pudding and the sausages and discard the skin. Season to taste with pepper (you probably don’t need salt as the black pudding will be seasoned) and combine really well using your hands. Divide into four. Remove the pickled eggs and dry with a paper towel then use in the classic recipe in place of the plain eggs and continue with the instructions from the classic recipe.
To serve you can drain the beetroot and serve with the scotch eggs.

The veggie
Makes 4

You’ll need to soak the chickpeas the day before.
250g dried chickpeas
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon crushed chilli or harissa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
150g panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
6 free range eggs
Splash of milk
50g flour
Sunflower oil, to fry

Place the chickpeas in a bowl and cover with plenty of water. Leave to soak overnight.
Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a frying pan over a medium heat for about 30 seconds until smelling fragrant then grind lightly in a mortar and pestle. Set aside. Drain the chickpeas and place in a food processor along with the cumin, coriander, onion, chilli, baking soda, 50g of the breadcrumbs, parsley and season with salt and pepper. Process to a fine crumb that is coming together.
Cook the eggs as for the classic recipe then assemble and cook in the same way, using the chickpea mix in place of the meat.