My Citizens – it is with profound sadness that I learned a few hours ago of the passing of Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas Queen, Defender of the Faith – Elizabeth II, Dei Gratia Magnae Britanniae, Hiberniae et terrarum transmarinarum quae in ditione sunt Britannica Regina, Fidei Defenso. After 70 years on the throne, she passed away peacefully at Her estate in Balmoral, Scotland surrounded by family before joining Her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in death.
In memoriam of Her sad passing, the location of Her passing at Her estate in Scotland and Her husband’s title as Duke of Edinburgh, I today present My recipe for Scotch Eggs worthy of a royal palate – the Queen is dead, long live the King Charles III!
A Scotch egg, if you are unfamiliar with it, is a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, coated in breadcrumbs and baked or deep-fried. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the first instance of the name as of 1809, in an edition of Maria Rundell’s A New System of Domestic Cookery. The recipe appeared in the first edition of the same book in 1805. They did not, at that time, have a breadcrumb layer, although by 1861 Isabella Beeton suggested this as an option.
The Oxford Companion to Food speculates that the origin may in point of fact be Indian koftas! Some say that the practice of encasing a pre-cooked egg in forcemeat developed not in Scotland, but rather in North Africa! The technique made its way Britain via France and was first recorded in England during the reign of Elizabeth I. Scotch eggs were originally spiked with cloves and were highly-spiced in an attempt to sweeten the often putrefying meat.
As a cold item, the London department store Fortnum & Mason claims to have invented Scotch eggs in 1738, as a traveller’s snack, but based this on archival material since lost. Fortnum & Mason certainly popularized Scotch eggs, including the foodstuff as part of various hampers. It is generally believed that Scotch eggs in turn derived from food the British encountered in the Raj, including a Mughlai dish called nargisi kofta (‘Narcissus meatballs‘).
Other claims include the name coming from a nickname used by Londoners who lived around Wellington Barracks after Officers of the Scots Guards stationed there, and who developed a taste for the snack. According to Culinary Delights of Yorkshire, they originated in Whitby, Yorkshire, England, in the 19th century, and were originally covered in fish paste rather than sausage meat. They were supposedly named after William J. Scott & Sons, a well-known eatery which sold them. However, the date does not fit with the known use of the term at least 75 years earlier.
It has also been suggested that they were originally called ‘scorch’ eggs, as they were cooked over an open flame, though according to surviving recipes they were deep-fried in lard. ‘Scotching’ as a culinary process is also sometimes cited as the origin, though what ‘scotching’ was is open to interpretation, from the inclusion of anchovies to simply mincing meat. Further confusion is added by the large trade in eggs from Scotland in the 19th century, which sometimes involved dipping eggs in a lime powder, a process possibly also known as ‘scotching’.
Scotch eggs are a common picnic food. In the United Kingdom packaged Scotch eggs are available in supermarkets, corner shops and motorway service stations. Miniature versions are also widely available, sold as ‘mini scotch eggs’, ‘savoury eggs’, ‘picnic eggs’, ‘party eggs’, ‘snack eggs’, ‘egg bites’ or similar. These contain chopped egg or a quail’s egg, rather than a whole chicken egg, and sometimes contain mayonnaise or chopped bacon.
In the United States, many ‘British-style’ pubs and eateries serve Scotch eggs, usually served hot with dipping sauces such as ranch dressing, hot sauce, or hot mustard sauce. At the Minnesota State Fair Scotch eggs are served on a stick. Scotch eggs are available at most Renaissance Festivals across the US.
As noted in this excerpted article on the subject from mashed.com:
Integral to British pub life, the Scotch egg’s visibility would seem to suggest universal adoration. However, a 2019 YouGov survey asking 6,367 participants to rank their favorite savory British foods demonstrated otherwise. Yorkshire pudding, Sunday roasts, and fish and chips rose to the top tier while Scotch eggs, beef Wellington, and pork pie united at the lower end. Although they didn’t fall to the very bottom with jellied eels and haggis, the results prompted outrage on Twitter from Scotch egg devotees.
After U.K.’s Channel 5 revealed the survey results, passionate loyalists took to their keyboards to defend the Scotch egg. Chief market analyst Neil Wilson commented, “You’re all wrong” in a Twitter post, using arrows to rearrange the Scotch egg’s placement. Another upset Twitter user wrote, “Scotch eggs are ‘low tier’? What is wrong with people?” Despite low survey ratings, Scotch eggs are nevertheless an edible U.K. emblem.
Evidently, Scotch eggs are prone to Twitter debates. However, when U.K. celebrity Beverley Callard drew unique criticism in the fall of 2020 as the subject of a Scotch egg spectacle. Callard was a contestant on the British reality series “I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!” — a show that throws shielded celebrities into the wild realities of campground survival. The Sun quickly reported backlash from viewers who witnessed Callard — a self-proclaimed vegan — devouring a Scotch egg prize on television.
According to The Sun, Callard became a vegan in March of 2020 and had cited her veganism when participating in a meat-eating challenge (which featured deer testicles and cow’s tongue) a few days prior. One Twitter user wrote, “I’m sorry, but was Beverley eating a scotch egg?” with #vegan and a skeptical Rachel from Friends meme. Per The Daily Mail, reality show hosts Ant and Dec attempted to settle the Twitter confusion, explaining that Callard received a special vegan Scotch egg. Who’s to say whether Callard is a faithful vegan or not, but the Scotch egg certainly has a commanding grip on Britain’s national commentary.
In terms of how to make a truly proper Scotch egg – the first thing to remember is that it’s best (IMHO) with a jammy or slightly runny yolk as opposed to a full-on hard boiling (though you can certainly make it hard-boiled if that’s how you roll!). It should go without saying that the eggs MUST be of the top-quality – free-range, no-cage and from chickens allowed to peck about as they see fit. The sausage meat can of course be simply made from pork – but given how Scotland is famed for wild game, I prefer to use a combo of sweet Italian sausage with elk sausage (get it at the link!).
Given the centuries-old history of the recipe, I prefer to make My Scotch eggs with the ancient condiment known as mushroom ketchup, which dates back to the 18th century in Great Britain and is still enjoyed to this very day! You can buy it from here. In a sharp departure from tradition, I prefer to use some Japanese panko bread crumbs to coat My Scotch eggs to amp up the crispy factor – My preferred brand is this one. You will need proper English mustard powder as well as some Honeycup mustard as well as the classic British spices of dried sage, dried thyme, and mace for the meat.
I have made the sausage encasing the egg a truly herbaceous, mustardy and savory addition indeed – I have every confidence that you will find that My regal version of Scotch eggs do NOT require a dipping sauce – however, if you prefer to have one there are several options – you can go with a mustard sauce, a Ranch sauce, or with My only preferred dipping sauce (if I must) with these Scotch eggs. I refer to My heretical view that tangy Jezebel sauce from the Southern United States is a phenomenal complement to these eggs – again, if you feel they require such a gilding of the royal lily!
Citizens – Queen Elizabeth II was a dignified and benevolent Monarch who – whether you’re a Royalist or not – was the living, breathing symbol of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth for seven decades. Her passing ends an era and I respectfully offer My condolences to the Citizens located in all of these countries who mourn Her passing. We shall not see Her like again on the throne for a very long time indeed… Enjoy these with some good Branston Pickle, Scotch Cheddar and English pickled onions on the side for a true taste of British culinary history with your next meal!
Battle on – the GeneralissimoPrint
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