Stay at home pub food – Scotch eggs

scotch eggs

Last weekend Jay Rayner wrote a piece in the Guardian about Pizza Hut’s 2,880 calorie cheese burger crust pizza. I just couldn’t believe the photo – surely food-wise things couldn’t get any worse.

But then my local (which has reached a new low since being taken over by the Flaming Grill Pub Company and painted bright orange) topped this by advertising their new ‘Trash Can Challenge’. For £19.99 you can consume a whopping 3763 calories and 219g of fat with a:

giant rack of ribs
double up cheese and bacon burger
beef chilli sundae
chicken skewer
onion rings
corn on the cob
smokey BBQ baked beans
peas (for just the tiniest bit of green)
a TRIPLE portion of chips

All presented in an actual bin lid. If you can’t quite imagine how much food this is then here’s a photo http://www.eatingchallenges.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/2014-02-12-15.40.21-Large.jpg.

I just wonder who is sneaking off to the Bluebell pub in the rather lovely village of Attenborough to give this dish a go. On the plus side it makes me feel a lot better about some of my own unhealthy guilty pleasures, such as my love of scotch eggs – previously the unhealthiest pub food I could imagine.

Now I will eat supermarket Scotch eggs when I have a hangover but I do worry about the standard of meat and eggs, so if possible I prefer to make my own. The bread crumbing is a little bit messy and the deep fat frying part is a bit of a faff, but they are not that difficult to make and they are just so deliciously unhealthy.

If you fancy trying to make your own too then here are my two Scotch egg recipes, one for a traditional pork sausage meat scotch egg, and another for a smoked fish version (a fairly recent experiment, vaguely based on a Richard Corrigan recipe which turned out really well).

Scotch eggs

Makes 4

  • 5 eggs (4 for hard boiling, one for bread crumbing)
  • 6 good quality medium sized pork sausages (about 300g)
  • Breadcrumbs (I make my own from leftover bread which I blitz in a food processor and then dry out and store in jam jars until needed. But you can buy breadcrumbs and if you’re feeling really fancy you can now buy Japanese Panko breadcrumbs from most large supermarkets which give a really crunchy crust.)
  • A little plain flour
  • 3 litres of sunflower oil

First hard boil your eggs. I start with the eggs in a pan of cold water then bring to the boil and time for 8 minutes from boiling. This results in a just hard egg yolk (if you like the yolk to still be a little runny then only cook for 5 minutes). Run the eggs under a cold tap and then leave to cool in a pan of cold water for about 5 minutes. Once cooled peel the shells from the eggs, pat dry and roll in a little flour.

Remove the sausage meat from your sausages. I use about one and a half regular sized sausages for each egg. You can season the sausage meat and add additional herbs but if your sausages are from a decent butcher then I don’t think this is necessary. Dampen your hands slightly and take the sausage meat in your hands and flatten it out into a circle, then place the egg in the centre and wrap around the egg smoothing with your hands until there are no gaps. Circle the sausage covered eggs in the palms of your hands as if you were making a ball of pastry – I find this helps to get a nice even thickness of sausage meat. Leave on a chopping board dusted with a little flour while you prepare the rest.

Now for the bread crumbing. Take a shallow bowl and beat one egg with a fork until well mixed. Take another bowl and empty in some breadcrumbs (I season mine with a little paprika which gives a pleasing orangey colour).

Dust the sausage covered eggs with a good covering of flour over all sides. Dip them into some beaten egg and then into your breadcrumbs making sure that you press the breadcrumbs into the surface to get a total covering. Place the Scotch eggs back on the chopping board until you are ready to fry (if this is a while away then you can keep them covered with cling film in the fridge but bring them back up to room temperature before frying).

Take a large deep pan and decant a whole bottle (3 litres) of sunflower oil into it. This is a horrifying amount of oil but you will be able to strain and reuse it a few more times. Heat the oil until a single bread crumb sizzles immediately on entering the pan and turns golden but does not burn.

Lower your eggs into the oil with a slotted spoon and cook until golden brown, this usually takes 5-8 minutes. I then cook them in the oven for a further 10 minutes at 180oC just to make sure the sausage meat cooks through (this is because I once served some up as a dinner party snack/starter and the sausage meat was raw).

You can serve these hot or cold. I prefer to eat homemade Scotch eggs warm when the outer coating is still nice and crunchy.

Smoked fish Scotch eggs

scotch egg fish

These are made in exactly the same way as above, however instead of the sausage meat you use a mixture of smoked fish and a little mashed potato. You can use any smoked white fish such as cod, haddock or pollack.

Ingredients as above except replace the sausage meat with:

  • 350g smoked white fish
  • 2 medium floury potatoes (roughly 150g peeled weight)

Begin by making mashed potato. Quarter the potatoes and cook in salted boiling water for 12-15 minutes until a fork can easily be poked through the potatoes. Drain the potatoes really well (you want them to be as dry as possible) and then mash. Do not add any butter or milk.

Steam the fish in a steamer or in a lidded pan with a splash of water until just cooked through (3-5 minutes should do it). Leave to cool, pat dry and then skin and flake the fish into a bowl making sure to remove any bones. Add the mashed potato and mix thoroughly until you have a smoothish paste. Check the seasoning. The smoked fish is very salty so you probably don’t need to add salt but you may like to add a little pepper.

Now follow the recipe for traditional Scotch eggs above only use the fish mixture instead of sausage meat.

Again, serve hot or cold. They taste really good with tartar sauce (bought or homemade).

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