Picnic essentials: Scotch eggs
Author: Stewart Turner
The Scotch egg needs no introduction. Their English origins, created by Fortnum & Mason in the mid-18th century, are well documented and – apart from a few years in the culinary wilderness – they seem to be everyone’s favourite pub snack. It’s got to the point where one can judge a pub’s level of culinary ambition by its attitude toward Scotch eggs. And it’s no longer just the classic, they are now available in a variety of flavours, in fact there is often a stall in Broadway Market that is a Mecca to Scotch egg fans – a whole stall brimming with every conceivable variety of Scotch egg. I’m doing a trio of recipes here to keep all you picnic-goers happy.
Scotch eggs three ways
For each recipe, you’ll need:
- 8 hen’s eggs – 6, plus 2 to coat
- 50ml milk
- Plain flour – for dusting
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Vegetable oil – for frying
For kedgeree Scotch eggs
- Olive oil
- 2 onions – peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic – peeled and finely chopped
- 1 red chilli – split, deseeded and finely chopped
- 300g arborio rice
- 200ml white wine
- 800ml chicken stock, plus more if needed
- ½ tbsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tbsp coriander – finely chopped
- 100g crème fraîche
- 1 lemon – juice and zest
- 1 fillet of smoked haddock – skinned and diced
Step 1: Sweat the onion, garlic and chilli in a good glug of olive oil. Add the rice and spices, and allow to toast for a couple of minutes. Gradually add the wine to the pan and, once it has been absorbed, start adding the chicken stock. When the risotto is almost cooked, stir in the diced smoked haddock and cook for a further 3 to 4 minutes (you don’t want the risotto to have too much bite). Once cooked, finish with the crème fraîche, coriander and lemon. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Chill in the fridge until completely cold.
Step 2: Boil six of the hen’s eggs for seven minutes. Gently break the shell so they stop cooking and run under the cold tap. When cold, peel and set aside.
Step 3: On a piece of cling film, pat out a sixth of the risotto – it should be enough to wrap around an egg. Put an egg in the middle and use the cling film to fold the filling around the egg so it is completely covered. Remove the cling film and mould the filling into an even thickness with your hands. Repeat with the other eggs and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Step 4: Beat the remaining two eggs with the milk. Prepare three shallow containers, one with the flour, one with the egg and milk, the third with the breadcrumbs. Roll each egg in the flour, then the egg mixture, and then breadcrumbs, until they are evenly coated. Make sure you tap off excess flour and egg.
Step 5: Heat the vegetable oil to 180°C, either in a deep fat fryer or saucepan. Deep-fry the Scotch eggs until golden brown. Drain and roll on kitchen paper. Either serve warm or chill as required.
For chorizo Scotch eggs
- 400g good-quality Cumberland sausage meat
- 150g cooking chorizo, skinned
- 1 onion – peeled and finely chopped
- ½ red chilli – deseeded and finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic – crushed
- ½ bunch chives
Step 1: Sweat the onion, chilli and garlic in a splash of olive oil for about 5 minutes, until soft but not coloured, then allow to cool. Combine the meat in a food processor and whiz briefly until sticky. Add the onion and chilli mix along with the chives. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.
Steps 2 to 4: Use the method from above to cook and coat the eggs.
Step 5: Deep fry the eggs for about five minutes at 150˚C, turning them every so often so that they are evenly coloured. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on some kitchen paper. Serve hot, cold or at room temperature with a good dollop of aioli.
For pea, mushroom and wild garlic Scotch eggs
- 200g frozen peas – defrosted
- 100g button mushroom – finely sliced
- 20g butter
- 2 shallot, finely chopped
- 50g wild garlic leaves – chopped
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- Salt and freshly pepper
- 50g cream cheese
- 5g fresh parsley, chopped
- 5g fresh tarragon chopped
Step 1: Melt the butter in a pan and fry the mushrooms until just starting to brown add the shallots and thyme, lower the temperature, cook for 4-5 minutes until soft. Stir in the wild garlic and allow it to wilt. Remove from the heat and cool. Blitz the peas in a food processor to a rough paste, place in a bowl. Remove the thyme from the mushroom mix and blitz, combine the two and season well, stir in the cream cheese and herbs.
Steps 2 to 5: Use the method from above to cook, coat and deep fry the eggs.
What to drink: there’s nothing much better suited to a picnic than Beaujolais – and our new own-label example has just landed. Of course, Champagne or other good fizz is not only versatile but is perfect should you forget to pack the corkscrew.