Scotch Eggs …. the original Fast Food!

I’ve been to Scotland, but I never saw a Scotch Egg.  In fact, I’ve never eaten a Scotch Egg.  What are they?  You certainly don’t see them here in the States.  And in the U.K., for the most part, they had faded into obscurity …… until recently that is.   It seems this food item was for the longest time considered among the “worst foods in Great Britain”.

Most often you find Scotch Egg s in the convenience foods aisle of the supermarkets or in the take-away section of a roadside rest area.  Morrisons, Marks and Spencer and Waitrose all sell them as frozen foods ready to take home, throw in the microwave and enjoy (?) for afternoon tea.

But, wait a minute . . . Tesco has just introduced a new version of the Scotch Egg wrapped in pastry . . .  and this hand-held snack recently appeared on a foodie magazine’s list as one of the “cool” new foods . . . not to mention Chef Tom Kerridge who has a gourmet version of the Scotch Egg in his Michelin-starred restaurant.  Scotch Eggs are being wrapped in patés, in avocado, in Black Pudding.  There are Scotch Eggs using quail eggs, ginger, tumeric, Panko ….  Apparently, what is old is new again.

Fortnum & MasonSo where did the Scotch Egg come from?  The posh London department store, Fortnum & Mason, takes credit for inventing this snack in the 18th century as part of its portable luncheon for travelers. In the 18th century traveling was a long and arduous event for even the shortest distances.  If you got hungry, there were no fast food restaurants along the way.  MacDonalds, Burger King’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken,Taco Bell?  So what did you do when you did get hungry?  Hopefully, you planned ahead.

Dr. Andrea Tanner, Fortnum & Mason’s archivist says “From the very beginning of the business Fortnum’s used to produce ready-made dishes like pork pies for travelers, which were put in baskets with disposable bamboo cutlery. The Scotch egg was one of those foods. It was small enough to fit in a handkerchief or pocket, and maybe was rather less smelly than tucking into a hardboiled egg on a coach.”

If they were a convenient luncheon or snack item in the 18th century, then why not now?  They are easily transportable . . . perfect for tailgating parties, backyard cookouts or school lunches.  Low cal?  No!  High protein?  Absolutely!  How do they taste?  Let’s find out!

Recipe adapted from Simon Rimmer’s “SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND”

5 large eggs  (soft, medium or hard boiled)
12 oz. sausage meat
fresh thyme – 1 tsp.
fresh parsley – 1 tblsp.
1/2 onion, minced
flour seasoned with salt and pepper
bread crumbs (or Panko)
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper
vegetable oil for frying

 If you don’t know how to boil eggs, let’s start there.  Place 5 eggs in cold water.  Bring to a boil. Cover, turn off heat and let sit.  Depending upon how hard you want the yoke, it can be 4, 6, 8 minutes.  Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, cool and shell under cold running water.

Prepare three dishes for coating the mixture:  an egg wash, seasoned flour, and breadcrumbs.

If you are using sausage in a casing, remove the casing.  In a bowl add sausage meat, thyme, parsley and minced onion.  Add salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Divide this mixture into five mounds (for five eggs).

In your hand take one mound of sausage and form a flattened round.  Place the cooked egg in the center and form the ball around it.  Do this for each egg.

Take the sausage wrapped egg and dip each one into the beaten egg wash, then the flour and finally the breadcrumbs, making sure they are completely covered.

Heat the vegetable oil to about 325.  Carefully place the eggs into the oil to cook.  It will take approximately 6 to 8 minutes per egg.  With slotted spoon remove the egg and place onto a paper towel to drain.   (You may need to finish the eggs in the oven – which is what I did.)

How were they?  If you love pork sausage, you’ll love these.  For me, they were dense and a bit heavy. They really are perfect for a portable lunch or snack.  Very filling and satisfying, I can’t imagine eating more than one (but hubby certainly can).  I think next time I’ll “oven fry” them and see if that lightens then up a bit.  Also I think I’m going to undercook the eggs so they are a bit softer and I’ll try chicken instead of pork sausage.   Hmmmm, I think we have may something!!


~ ~ ~ ~ ~

References:  BBC Food, The Guardian, Something for the Weekend, Fortnum & Mason

The British Food Festival

Hubby discovered this event while trolling the Internet a few weeks ago.  We had already made plans to be in the County Durham area during that weekend …. yes, of course, I want to go!  Master classes … celebrity chefs … local artisan foods … everything that I could learn from and use for my new blog and ultimately my new specialty foods café.  Who knows, maybe Mary Berry or Paul Hollywood would be there.  If not, then maybe one of the contestants from the Great British Bake Off.

I did my research, downloaded the map, the schedule of events, and was ready.  We took a drive to Bishop Auckland the day before just to get the ‘lay of the land’.  I certainly didn’t want us to get lost, or not know where to park.  As we drove along the highway into Bishop Auckland, the flashing signboards were up warning us to “expect delays” because of what was expected to be thousands upon thousands of foodies descending on the town.  We talked to relatives who kindly offered their driveways, knowing that we’d be driving around for hours trying to find a spot to park the car.

Off we set on Sunday morning.  A typical English day, cold, damp, and grey,  8° C (about 46° F).  The drive was uneventful.  Parking (thank you Morrison’s) was not a problem.  Walking to the town square was brisk, but quiet.  Where were all the people?   I was ready to battle the crowds.  We saw the first of the white canopies, then more, then row after row of folding chairs, and a stage platform.  But where is Mary Berry?

As we made our way through the market square down past the canopied vendors to Auckland Castle where the main event was to take place, finally, people!!  The day began to brighten and so did my attitude.  Look there’s a vendor selling Millionaire’s Shortbread and it LOOKS JUST LIKE MINE!!  Pies ….. steak and stilton, pork and apple, cheese and onion, traditional and exotic.  They were all here!  Scones …. cheeses …. breads ….!

food show image

We sampled everything we possibly could from Spanish Paella to 6-month aged Bleu Cheeses.  We drank hard ciders, homebrewed vodka, and, of course, tea.  There were traveling troubadours singing the praises of ‘tomatoes’, squawking seagulls to entertain (and annoy) the children, foods from all over the world.

Did I read more into this event than it actually was?  Probably!  But, did I enjoy it?  Absolutely!!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
References:  The British Food Festival