A snack doesn’t get much more perfect for me than the humble Scotch egg. Enjoyed best in a local boozer, with a pint of their finest seems like lazy Sunday afternoon heaven. According to Fortnum and Mason, they claim to have invented it way back in 1738 as the ultimate coach travelling snack. Another theory is that it evolved from Nargisi Kofta, an Indian dish also made with mince meat and egg.
The most likely is Neil Chambers’s idea it was a northern version of the Cornish pasty produced by Scottish smallholders, who would have kept chickens and pigs. It seems to be a working man’s lunch made from leftovers. The thing is nobody really knows. But what I do know is that they taste pretty good.
Jamie Oliver says to use tiny little quail eggs, but this just seems to take the butch factor out of them for me. Everyone else seems to say medium hen eggs, which makes sense to me and they need to be a little runny. However, cooking time seems to vary. Mr’s Beeton’s book of household management say’s boil for 7 minutes, then plunge into ice water. The Baker Brothers use the same method but go a minute longer. Heston Blumenthal as you would expect uses an elaborate method where you bring the eggs to boil, immedietly stop, leave in hot water then finally plunge into ice water. Seems a bit complicated to me.
Delia, the queen of British cooking says go for sausage meat as you need loads of flavour to compete with the richness of the egg. Another option is some homemade sausage meat where you use 150g minced pork belly and 150g mince pork shoulder. Then comes the question of pimping it up. The kings of meat grub The Sussex Review say add 50g black pudding to give it a rich velvety texture. I’ve also found reference to using Chorizo, but I’m going for traditional here.
Galton Blackiston recommends using Japanese Panko breadcrumbs. This gives you an amazingly crispy shell, but I really struggled getting the golden colour and cooking it through. It needs a crunch, but this shouldn’t get in the way of all the meaty goodness and soft gooey egg in the middle. Classic white breadcrumbs come out top for most chefs, and most point to them being super fine so you don’t soak up too much oil.
How to make the perfect Scotch eggs
5 medium free-range hen eggs
400g of the best Cumberland sausages you can get
Sprig of thyme
80g very fine white breadcrumbs. Ideally from a stale loaf
Sunflower oil for frying
Salt and pepper
Bring a pan to boil over a medium heat and add four of the eggs. Cook them for exactly seven minutes and then quickly plunge into a bowl of iced water to completely cool. Carefully peel and set the eggs aside.
Remove the sausage meat, discard the skins and season well with salt, pepper and the fresh thyme. Divide into four equal portion. Lay down four pieces of cling film, place the sausage meat portion on top and lay another piece of cling film on top. Flatten the sausage meat till it’s wide enough to cover the egg. Place in the fridge to firm up.
Set up three bowls for a mini assembly line. Fill the first bowl with the plain flour. In the second, beat the remaining egg. Finally, the breadcrumbs go in the third bowl. Using wet hands take a flattened sausage meat parcel, remove the cling film and place an egg in the middle. Pinch the meat around the egg gradually to seal it all over. Place on some baking paper and repeat with the remaining eggs.
Take a meat-wrapped egg and roll it in flour to coat, shake off the excess. Now dip into the egg mixture, then roll into the breadcrumbs. Give it a light shake and an extra roll in the breadcrumbs. Repeat with the remaining eggs.
Pre-heat the oil in a deep pan, or deep fryer if you have one to 180 degrees. When ready fry 2 eggs at a time for about 6 minutes. Keep an eye on them the whole time and gently rotate with long tongs throughout for an even golden finish. Once cooked, drain the eggs on a plate filled with kitchen roll. Allow to cool, pop open a bottle of your favourite beer and eat with a generous dollop of English Mustard.