This week’s Pig Of The Week column from Lars Hinnerskov Eriksen takes a populist turn for Easter, and becomes Chick Of The Week.
Text And Photo By Lars Hinnerskov Eriksen
My family has always been big on eggs for Easter: boiled, fried, poached, truffled and even ‘shat’ eggs (much more delicate that the name indicates, these are soft-boiled eggs served in a creamy mustard sauce). In the spirit of this column, for my Easter recipe I turn to that quintessential British picnic and petrol stop snack – the Scotch egg.
The basics of this are undisputed; a boiled egg is trapped in minced pork meat, breaded and then deep fried. However, there is a debate about the origin of the egg. The British department store Fortnum & Mason has laid claim to the invention (known as bird’s nests to the more cultured foodie at the time) although the Oxford Companion on Food reckons it might have been inspired by a variation of a south Asian kofta.
For proper Scotch eggheads who really want to get in to the nitty gritty, this website has collated an impressive amount of sources on the origins and history behind the dish.
The most conventional way of making Scotch eggs is with a normal size hardboiled egg and breadcrumbs. However, I find this to be slightly too hefty and much prefer the miniature versions made with quail’s eggs which have runny yolks. Just as ordering a well-done steak is borderline sacrilegious, there is no greater shame than to hard boil an egg and miss out on that lovely gooey stuff in the centre that binds together the other ingredients. As for the breadcrumbs, I managed to track down some Japanese panko for this version. These flakey crumbs work really well for Scotch egg, but normal breadcrumbs will suffice.
The egg can be served on its own, alongside a salad or with a dipping sauce. I think the perfect accompaniment is a traditional English piccalilli relish, which has a crunch and that tounge-tickeling sweet-sour vinegary taste. For the Scotch egg below I used Delia’s piccalilli recipe.
- 450g minced pork meat
- 12 quail's eggs (this recipe makes about 10 but you will mess up a couple)
- 2 eggs
- Panko flakes
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp mustard powder
- Salt and pepper
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Preheat the oven to 350F/180C
- Season the pork with a pinch of cayenne pepper, mustard powder, salt and pepper. Make a mineature meatball out of the mince and fry this to make sure you have the seasoning right.
- Boil the quail's eggs for 90 seconds and immediately remove to ice water to stop the cooking.
- Peel the eggs and be careful not to pierce the membrane so the yolk starts runnning through.
- Get three shallow dishes: Fill one with flour, another with panko or breadcrumbs, and beat the two eggs in the third dish.
- Now it's time to assemble the eggs. Roll out some cling film on your chopping board. Spread about a spoonful of mince eat and flatten it out into a 4:3 rectangle shape. Place the egg in the middle of the mince and delicately fold and wrap the meat around it. You want to enclose the eggs and use the palms of your hands to create the shape you want. You should do this with the most gentle of touches, as if you were handling a newly hatched chicken.
- Roll the egg in the flour, dip it into the whisked eggs and then shake it around in the panko until it is completely covered in crumbs.
- While you heat the oil for frying, you can put the eggs in the freezer for about five minutes to firm them up a bit.
- Fry the eggs in a deep fat fryer or a tall pan or wok half-filled with oil. Fry the eggs for about two minutes or until they have an even golden crust. Place them on some kitchen roll to drip off and then move them onto a greaseproof-paper lined tray in the oven. After about 3 minutes they are ready to servce, although they also work very well after they have cooled down a bit.
Lars Hinnerskov Eriksen lives in Copenhagen where he writes about food and football for the Guardian newspaper. Prior to that he spent 10 years in London where he studied journalism, worked on the Guardian’s newsdesk and enjoyed a passionate love affair with British food culture (stop sniggering at the back) and the pub.