Way back in 1738 Fortnum and Mason created a new snack, the ‘Scotch Egg’ and it’s still a favourite and staple in the diet of many Gentleman.
Back then the ‘happening new snack food’ was created for the Gentleman taking the long coach journey home to far-flung families. An easy to carry and portable snacks was required and Fortnum’s produced some suggestions including including wrapping a hard-boiled egg – which in those days was probably a pullet’s egg – in sausage meat and coating it in fried breadcrumbs. The result was substantial, tasty and full of protein, it was an excellent way to stave off hunger pangs. (Its name, by the way, has nothing to do with Scotland; ‘scotched’ was merely another word for ‘processed’.)
Since then it has become a classic British food, although the poorer-quality versions found languishing on service station shelves haven’t done much for its gourmet credentials. But recently the scotch egg has been enjoying a comeback, turning up on restaurant and gastro pub menus in all kinds of guises – made with pickled eggs, black pudding, pureed crayfish and so on – just part of the growing tendency among chefs to rediscover the merits of many classic British foods.
If you like one with a pint we heartily recommend the Southampton Arms http://www.thesouthamptonarms.co.uk/ in Kentish Town. However, if you are adventurous and fancy making your own scotch eggs here is a recipe.
We are grateful to the Guardian for this recipe which is oven baked rather than deep fried, so we are thinking of your health as well as your waist lines.
200g plain sausagemeat
200g pork mince
3 tbsp chopped mixed herbs (try chives, sage, parsley and thyme)
A pinch of ground mace
1 tbsp English mustard
Splash of milk
100g panko breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil, to cook
1. Put four of the eggs into a pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for five minutes, then put straight into a large bowl of iced water for at least 10 minutes.
2. Put the meat, herbs, mace and mustard into a bowl, season and mix well with your hands. Divide into four.
3. Carefully peel the eggs. Beat the two raw eggs together in a bowl with a splash of milk. Put the flour in a second bowl and season, then tip the breadcrumbs into a third bowl. Arrange in an assembly line.
4. Put a square of cling film on the work surface, and flour lightly. Put one of the meatballs in the centre, and flour lightly, then put another square of cling film on top. Roll out the meat until large enough to encase an egg and remove the top sheet of cling film.
5. To assemble the egg, roll one peeled egg in flour, then put in the centre of the meat. Bring up the sides of the film to encase it, and smooth it into an egg shape with your hands. Dip each egg in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs, then egg and then breadcrumbs.
6. Fill a large pan a third full of vegetable oil, and heat to 170C (or when a crumb of bread sizzles and turns golden, but does not burn, when dropped in it). Cook the eggs a couple at a time, for seven minutes, until crisp and golden, then drain on kitchen paper before serving.
Thanks to Fortnum for Scotch Egg history and to the Guardian for the recipe.
In 1705 Hugh Mason had a small shop in St James’s Market and a spare room in his house. The Fortnum family had come to London from Oxford as high-class builders in the wake of the Great Fire, helping to establish the St James’s and Mayfair areas as the most fashionable in London. William climbed another rung by taking a post as footman in Queen Anne’s household – and the room at Mr Mason’s.
The Royal Family’s insistence on having new candles every night meant a lot of half-used wax for an enterprising footman to sell on at a profit – so while the Queen’s wages paid the rent, William’s enlightened sideline melted down into enough to start a respectable business.