Scottish Cuisine — Scotch Eggs

Traditional Scottish cuisine is shaped by its rugged landscape and relative isolation from European neighbors.  Fish and game are featured prominently, as are root vegetables and simple grains like oats and barley.  Beer, cheese, whiskey, and pork products like bacon and sausage are of high quality and are exported to the rest of the world.  In Scotland nothing goes to waste and the unsavory bits of the animal are utilized to their fullest, the greatest example being the national dish haggis.  Other famous Scottish preparations are Scotch eggs (boiled eggs wrapped in sausage and deep-fried, recipe follows), neeps & tatties (mashed rutbagas and potatoes), finnan haddie (smoked haddock), smoked salmon, and Scotch broth (mutton and root vegetable stew).

Scotland quick facts:

  • Capital: Edinburgh
  • Population: 5,295,400 (2011 census)
  • Notable Scots: Sean Connery, William Wallace, Andy Murray, Groundskeeper Willie

In our personal exploration of Scotland’s food, we have made Scotch eggs and haggis.  The haggis preparation was somewhat long and complicated and will be highlighted in an upcoming series of posts.  Here, then, is our method for Scotch eggs:

Scotch Eggs

(adapted from Classic Recipes from Scotland by Tom Bridge)

MAKES 6 EGGS

  • 6 hard-cooked, shelled eggs
  • seasoned flour for dredging
  • 16 oz pork sausage
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • oil for frying

First, all the ingredients were laid out on the counter to create an assembly and dredging station (the beaten eggs are in the round white bowl):

prepstation

The eggs were rolled in flour, which will help the sausage adhere during assembly:

eggsinflour

…and arranged on a plate ready for the next steps:

eggsfloured

The sausage was divided into six equal portions and flattened into approximately four inch rounds.  We used a sanitized countertop instead of a cutting board as a work surface to give us more space:

sausageready

To form the sausage around the eggs, first the sausage patty was gently cupped around each egg:

formingeggs

At first it might seem like an insufficient amount of sausage, but with some gentle squeezing and shaping, the sausage was able to make it all the way around the surface of each egg:

finishingforming

Some sausage-wrapped eggs can be seen in the bottom of the two previous images.  The Scotch eggs were then ready to be coated with breadcrumbs.  First, they were rolled in a light coating of flour:

flouringscotchegg

The next step is to coat the Scotch egg in the beaten egg mixture.  We worked quickly in order to not wash away too much of the flour:

eggwash

Then they were covered in breadcrumbs for the final coating and arranged on a plate:

eggsbreaded

Presumably to avoid overcooking the hard-cooked egg inside while frying, Tom Bridge recommends refrigerating them for one hour, which we did.  Frying the cold Scotch eggs proved to be challenging.  With our cast iron skillet (the fryer of choice in our household) filled with about an inch of vegetable oil and the burner set to a little bit higher than medium, the first couple were done at too high an oil temperature and the innermost sausage was still pink when the breadcrumb coating was almost blackened.  We lowered the heat to just below medium on the range for the rest:

eggsfrying

Turning frequently with two wooden spoons, the Scotch eggs were fried until dark brown in order to fully cook the sausage then removed to a plate lined with a napkin to drain and cool:

friedeggs

At this level of browning on the outside, the inside was finally properly cooked through:

finishedscotcheggs

The hard-cooked eggs ended up a little overdone, as indicated by the gray ring around the yolks, but the sausage had finally lost all pink coloration.

Scotch eggs were challenging to cook correctly with our equipment, and surely with a deep-fryer with a thermostat or a candy thermometer better results could have been achieved.

Scotch eggs are a very simple and straight-forward presentation with a deceptively tricky preparation.  The results are tasty (and portable, if that’s important to you) and offer a new twist to the classic sausage-and-eggs breakfast that we are used to in the States.  We might leave this dish to the restaurant cooks though.

More from our Scottish meal:

Haggis, Part One

Haggis, Part Two

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