Friday, 22 June 2012

Scotch eggs - the perfect picnic food (a recipe)

Jubilee Scotch Eggs

In my opinion, a Scotch egg is the perfect picnic food. They are incredibly satisfying; something you make once in a blue moon, at most; filling; reasonably bad for you in a hearty way, rather than a laboratory food way; and pretty much impossible to buy edible from supermarkets. Yes, fun picnics can come from a supermarket - spontaneous, completely fine picnics. But you should never, ever buy a Scotch egg from a supermarket as it will definitely be disgusting. The egg will be rubbery, over-cooked and almost guaranteed not to be free-range. The sausage meat will be under-seasoned, lurid pink mystery meat. But the worst bit is the bread-crumbed coating. This will be soggy, probably over-chilled straight from the refrigerated section, without a hint of crisp, freshly fried crumb to it.

Scotch eggs are having a bit of a moment right now. The Pea Green Boat, for example, have a stall at various markets, including Stockbridge, Out of the Blue Drill Hall and Portobello, devoted to many and varied incarnations, all of which will put the supermarket Scotchie to humiliated shame. And they're only sold for £2, last time I checked, which is about a fifth of what I would have been willing to sell my Scotch eggs for.

Because the other reason that Scotch eggs lend a sense of occasion to any picnic is that they are bloody fiddly to make properly, and give you an enormous sense of gratification when they come out of the fryer looking just as you'd hoped.

This is the recipe I followed. It is, allegedly, Heston B's, and is from a Waitrose card - as they were given out for free I hope it's ok to roughly reproduce it here (I've taken out the Waitrose product branding). And yes, you read that right - boil those eggs for exactly 1 minute 45 seconds. They'll be practically raw and a total arse to peel/wrap in sausage meat - the amount of Heston cursing you'll do while making these is in direct proportion to the amount of praise you'll give him whilst eating them.

Heston's Scotch eggs (makes 8, takes the best part of a morning...)

10 medium free-range eggs
450g sausagemeat, or 6 skinned sausages
1 heaped tsp thyme leaves (about 1/4 packet)
45g French mustard
1/2 level tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
1 packet of chives, chopped
plain flour
50ml milk
125g breadcrumbs
Ground nut oil, for frying

1. Preheat the oven to 190C / gas mark 5. Place 8 eggs in a large pan in enough cold water to cover them by 2cm, place over a high heat. As soon as the water starts to simmer, set a timer for 1 minute 45 seconds exactly. While the eggs are cooking, fill a bowl with cold water and ice cubes and when the timer goes off plunge the eggs into the water to cool.

2. Put the sausagemeat in a bowl, add the thyme, mustard, cayenne pepper, seasoning, chopped chives and 2 tbsps water. Mix thoroughly and form 8 patties with your hands (dip your hands in cold water if the mixture sticks). Chill in the fridge for 20 mins.

3. Once the eggs are cool, gently remove the shells. [This will be freaking difficult, if my experience was anything to go by - you might want to boil an extra couple of eggs in case any totally fall apart.] Flatten each pattie into a circle and place an egg in the centre. Wrap the sausagemeat around the egg, pressing the edges in order to seal it. [I read a tip on another Heston Scotch eggs recipe (why does he need so many?) you might want to try - flatten the sausagemeat into a circle between two sheets of cling film, remove the top layer of film, place the egg on top and draw the clingfilm around it. This sounds easier.]

4. Fill a saucepan with oil deep enough to cover the eggs and heat it to 190C [or until a bit of bread dropped in sizzles and turns brown quite quickly]. Put the flour into a small bowl and season. In another dish, beat the remaining 2 eggs and add the milk. Put the breadcrumbs into a third. Roll each egg in the flour, gently tapping off the excess, then in the egg, then the breadcrumbs. Make sure it's coated all the way round.

5. Deep fry the Scotch eggs two at a time for 2 mins until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and put to drain on kitchen roll. When all the eggs have been fried put them on a baking tray and into the oven for 10 mins. Serve straight away while the yolks are still runny [although they never go properly hard, even after a couple of days - winner!]

The rest of the picnic...

Avocado, tomato and watercress salad, pastry-less quiches (see the upcoming It's Good 2 Give charity cookbook for that recipe!), sausage rolls and the almighty Scotch egg

Eton mess, of course, on a jubilee appropriate table cloth

1 comment:

  1. Oh I love a Scotch Egg. Their used to be a place in Kirkaldy (about 40 years ago) which sold hot freshly made Scotch eggs and my Mum would buy them to take home. I've never made my own, but I know what you mean about rubbery tasteless ones from the supermarket.