How to cook the perfect scotch egg

Pulchritudinous, portable and patriotic, this all-time British classic is ideal for jubilee weekend picnics. What else might grace your hamper this summer?

Whatever you’re celebrating this weekend, a scotch egg will do you proud (vegetarians, if any of you are still reading, check out this recipe). Pulchritudinous, portable, and eminently patriotic, it’s the best thing never to come out of Scotland.

The scotch egg needs no introduction – their English origins (they werecreated by Fortnum & Mason of Piccadilly in 1738), metropolitan modishness and comedy potential having already been thoroughly chewed over and digested.

How times change. I still remember my surprise on encountering my first ever “proper” scotch egg at the age of 21 – having been put off the things by the rubbery tennis balls that passed as summer fare at school (with or without the greying reformed egg, depending on your relationship with the dinner lady in question), its shape perplexed me. The discovery of a real life egg inside seemed to elevate the thing to a piece of culinary cleverness of Heston-like proportions. (Thank goodness there’s little chance of a child growing up in such criminal ignorance these days – if you don’t fancy taking yours to the pub with you, it’s your parental duty to make them a batch at home instead.)

6 eggs
200g plain sausagemeat
200g pork mince
3 tbsp chopped mixed herbs (I like chives, sage, parsley and thyme)
A pinch of ground mace
1 tbsp English mustard
Splash of milk
50g flour
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 clingfilm on the worksurface, 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 clingfilm.

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.

by Felicity Cloake

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