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Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017 12:01 am

Start a new tradition

How Scotch eggs rescued me from a fight

Scotch eggs being cooked in the oven.

 

Most of the foods that show up every year on my family’s holiday table have origins in the culinary practices of our past generations. Our holiday table has never been a forum for innovation; it has always been a showcase for our family traditions. We always have Nana’s creamed spinach. We always have mashed potatoes with gravy and bread stuffing with sage. We always have suet pudding for dessert. The same smells and tastes from the family kitchen year after year reconnect us with our roots and trigger pleasant memories from our past. A notable deviation from our unchangeable family tradition is the Scotch eggs that started showing up on our holiday table about 25 years ago.

A Scotch egg is a hard- or soft-boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, coated in bread crumbs and deep-fried or baked. The Scotch egg originated in the kitchens of the London department store Fortnum and Mason in 1738 as a portable snack to quell the hunger of wealthy travelers during their long and arduous carriage rides. According to the store’s archivist: “It is a compact snack that required no cutlery and could be transported easily – even in a pocket, wrapped in a handkerchief.” The Scotch egg was the historical precursor to our modern day “fast food.”

In modern times the Scotch egg is a popular pub snack or a brunch item. The original Scotch egg was made with small pullet eggs from immature hens and was covered with forcemeat, a mixture of lean ground meat bound up with fat. Today’s Scotch eggs are larger and usually made with breakfast sausage.

American Harvest’s Scotch eggs.
Photo by Peter Glatz
I clearly remember the first time I experienced a Scotch egg. It was the early 80s and I was with my family vacationing in Disney World. We stopped for a midafternoon snack at the Rose and Crown Pub in the World Showcase pavilion at EPCOT. Scotch eggs were featured on the bar menu and I decided to give them a try. While waiting for my Scotch eggs I struck up a conversation with a group of young men with interesting accents sitting next to me at the bar. I discovered they were a visiting soccer team from South Africa. I had just heard an interview with their fellow countryman, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, on NPR and I innocently and naively (but stupidly) remarked to the inebriated white South African athletes about how impressed I was with what I heard from their black archbishop. I immediately realized I had hit a very raw nerve. They began screaming at me. “I cannot believe what I am hearing! Desmond Tutu is an evil man! How could anybody be so wrong?” I knew I was in trouble. I prayed: “Beam me up Scotty!!!” Security arrived before any fists started flying and my new friends were escorted away. My heart rate slowed back down and my hands stopped trembling. I gulped down my beer and ordered another round. Soon my Scotch eggs arrived: two hard-boiled eggs wrapped in sausage and deep-fried, served cut in half, with a mustardy mayonnaise sauce. It was love at first bite!

I was able to locate the Rose and Crown Pub’s Scotch egg recipe in Disney’s 1986 cookbook, Cooking with Mickey Around Our World –Walt Disney World’s Most Requested Recipes. Over the years I’ve made a few changes.

Scotch eggs can be a bit tricky to make at first and I will share some tips to avoid problems. One key to success is to make sure the frying oil is hot. Use a thermometer and heat oil to 350 degrees. If the egg goes into cold oil, it will become soggy and dripping in fat and won’t develop the crunchy bread coating. When wrapping the sausage around the egg, don’t use too much sausage. A thin sausage layer will allow thorough cooking of the meat without burning the breadcrumb coating. If you cut into the egg and find that the sausage is undercooked, wrap the egg in foil and put it in a 350-degree oven. The sausage will finish cooking without drying out the egg.

Scotch eggs
Recipe adapted from Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room, England Pavilion, EPCOT

Ingredients:
• 1 pound breakfast sausage
• 5 peeled hard-boiled eggs, chilled
• Olive oil for lubricating hands
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten
• 1/3 cup whole milk
• ½ cup panko bread crumbs
• ½ cup rolled oats
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• Neutral oil for deep-frying
• Kosher salt

Mustard sauce:
• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 3 tablespoons Coleman’s mustard
• 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1-2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Preparation:
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
• Divide the sausage into 5 equal-sized balls and chill.
• Combine mustard sauce ingredients.
• Coat your hands and work surface with a thin film of olive oil. Flatten the sausage balls onto the palm of your hand to a thickness of 1/3 inch.
• Place egg in middle and wrap the egg with the meat. Pinch edges together and smooth ball so that there are no seams or openings.
• Put flour in a shallow bowl. Beat together the remaining eggs and milk in a second shallow bowl. Combine the panko and rolled oats in a third shallow bowl.
• Dredge the sausage balls in flour. Then roll into milk-egg mixture. Then roll in panko-oat mixture.
• Add enough oil to deep fryer or saucepan to cover egg. Using a thermometer, heat the oil to 350 degrees.
• Deep-fry the eggs 1 or 2 at a time, keeping the temperature close to 350 degrees. Fry until eggs begin to brown (about 1 minute), then finish baking in oven about 10 minutes or until sausage is cooked through.
• Serve warm or cold with mustard sauce.

The next public informational seminar presenting the experiences of the CrossFit Instinct intermittent fasting study will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 20, at 6 p.m. at Springfield Clinic at 900 N. First St. Free parking is available in the adjoining parking garage to the north. Enter into the first floor and turn left into the first hallway to the media room.

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