It’s the end of term and the ‘blue one’ has officially finished his first phase of education, if you can call nursery that. ‘Big School’ awaits and all the joys of learning and knowledge that may bring, yet not before a rather long summer holiday. First on the agenda is the breeding program, encouraged by the ‘life cycle topic’ the blue has been studying at kindergarten, he has started his own on the farm! Refusing to pick the eggs from the broody hen, we have been left with no alternative but to place said broody madam in her own palace, sitting extremely tight on top of 4 eggs, 21 days from now we will hopefully have some chicks. Fingers crossed as there is a lot riding on it. For the less broody, their eggs continue to be collected ending up in an array of delicious concoctions including one of my childhood favourites, scotch eggs.
I have never made scotch eggs until this year, it must have been the glut of eggs that encouraged me. I mean who would have thought a year ago I could seriously get away with serving what Mr.P fondly calls ‘Basra baked eggs’ (Shakshuka to you and me), hence new egg recipes are always welcome and I guess that’s what prompted the desire to embark on scotch egg production. And it really is a production, a serious labour of love. Mummy used to make them, that was when I was a little person myself, I actually vividly remember them being packed into picnics destined for long sailing trips down the river Deben hunting for sharks teeth!! And I guess that is partly the reason I was inspired, after all they are perfect picnic food, practically a meal in themselves and for me, evocative of a much adored childhood long since gone. So with a day fishing on the Avon looming and a party of enthusiastic anglers expecting lunch I was ready to get making.
In my view the key to the perfect scotch egg is extremely good, well seasoned sausage meat. The sausage meat firstly needs to be really high quality and then it needs to have additional goodies added to it, I flavour mine with grated apple, chilli and fennel seeds. This critical combo of super tasty sausage then needs to encase a hard-boiled egg that is still just, just soft, all of which has been deep-fried in a combination of panko crumbs and polenta. There’s a lot going on here and to get it right is a combination of luck and good judgement. Miraculously they worked, a million light years a way from those ghastly shop bought ones costing 99p, but they are time-consuming, don’t embark on this little project if you’re up against the clock. Having got it right, probably through a stroke of luck, I tried the same with quail eggs making a canapé option, yet with less success. Aesthetically they were not quite so pleasing as the sausage meat shrunk too much and they certainly were not the perfect specimen I had envisaged, still tasted yummy and were guzzled up. Frankly I would stick to the normal size, much more satisfying all round. So if you are feeling brave and love a scotch egg, get making. I can’t promise the quantities are 100% accurate, you may need to ‘ad hoc’ it a bit. Play around with the sausage meat flavourings, I like mine quite punchy but you may want a milder option.
Free range organic eggs
Sausage meat seasoned with fennel seeds, grated apple, chilli flakes, ground black pepper, grated nutmeg
Breadcrumbs : I use a mix of polenta, panko and any other fine breadcrumbs I have knocking around
Sunflower oil to deep fat fry
1. First boil the eggs, the ones I use are from our hens and probably medium in size, I keep them at room temperature and put them into ‘rolling boiling’ water for 4 minutes 30 seconds and then straight into cold water. I normally boil 3 at a time. Peel the eggs once they have cooled, be very gentle.
2. Season your sausage meat, your choice, as mentioned I love a good pinch of chilli and fennel seeds, about 1 grated apple and additional ground pepper and freshly ground nutmeg and mix together well.
3. Flour your eggs. Now place a ball of sausage meat in your hand, flatten completely and very gently encase the egg pulling the seams together. Try not to make the sausage meat layer too thick, about 1/2 cm is perfect. Place in the fridge to chill.
4. This is the messy bit so be prepared …. Start with 3 bowls and a tray to put your eggs on, one bowl needs to have egg wash in, one – flour and one the breadcrumbs. Place the first sausage encased egg in the flour gently cover all over and then dip in the egg wash, promptly followed by the breadcrumbs. Bravo, the messy bit is over now it’s just the deep fat frying bit left.
5. I don’t own a deep fat fryer so have always done this in a saucepan. It works perfectly, just be careful. Heat about 4 inches of sunflower oil up very gently until it ‘crisps a breadcrumb’ , at this stage lower your eggs in and allow them to fry till golden – remember the sausage meat has to cook but you don’t want them in their so long that it cooks the egg anymore. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and place on kitchen roll.