Sunday, October 26, 2014

Another goal realised

On my Life List, I've had all sorts of things appear. One, which I mentioned earlier, here, was to learn to play the piano, which has been on the list a long time, and which i'm doing.

A recent addition has been sampling Scotch eggs. Yes, that gay Welsh raconteur as Tom Gowans calls John (how I miss Tom's blog, Hippo on the Lawn, and hope all is well by him); anyhow, yes, the inimitable John of Going Gently, mentions scoffing Scotch eggs on occasion, and I thought it might be nice to try one and see what I thought.

Of course, we've no Tesco's or Sainsbury's nearby where I can just pop around and try one, and sometimes searching for recipes online can lead one down a crazy rabbit hole. Some months back, I had a wild hair about wanting to get an old Watkins cookbook and bid for two of them ebay. Very low bids as I had been outbid on several and decided rather than win both, i'd have low bids so I could be reminded to up my bid if need be. Well, as it turned out, it seems I hit the off week for others who wanted Watkins cookbooks, because I won both, one a 1936 edition and one a 1948 edition. Many of the recipes are the same, and in the 1948 edition, there was a note pencilled in saying that there was a one-dish recipe on page 167. I turned to see which recipe she could have been looking at, when I realized as I turned the pages, there was no page 167. She must have made the note for herself so she could remove the page for her files. That led me to wonder even more about the recipe, when my eye fell on page 166, and there, as plain as day was a recipe for Scotch eggs.

I had no need to convert metric measurements and scanned the list of ingredients. Not many of those, either.

Now, at this juncture, I should point out that I think of recipes more like guidelines or starting points. I rarely follow one exactly, and if it expresses the least whiff of a dire warning that all steps must be followed exactly, I usually don't bother with it.

This had none of that, other than to mention that Watkins pepper and paprika could be used as a seasoning along with plain old salt. Still, I wanted to follow the recipe closely since John hadn't magically teleported to my house to give me the ins and outs of what made a good Scotch egg great and to oversee my efforts.

I have a pig coming to my freezer next month, and my goal between now and then is to use up what's in there to ensure adequate room, and to use up the last cuts from the half a pig I got last year.

So, I made some substitutions. I used ground pork rather than sausage, I omitted the salt, pepper, and paprika because I forgot to add them and by the time I remembered, I had already wrapped the meat around the eggs. The recipe called for a pound of sausage and six hard boiled eggs. My package of ground pork was about 12 ounces or three-quarters of a pound, so I figured 4 eggs would be enough. The recipe called for boiling the eggs 30 minutes then cooling. I thought 30 minutes excessive and boiled them 10, removing them from the heat and then after 15 or 20 minutes transferring them to a bowl and into the fridge to cool. I don't like the grey-green ring that can form around hardboiled eggs when they're cooked too long, and wondered if I should have scooped them out of the warm water before I did.

The recipe also called for bread crumbs. I don't usually have those on hand, and the few times I need bread crumbs, I either crush some saltine crackers, omit the bread crumbs, or scramble to find something else. In this case, I used corn meal, figuring that I needed some sort of breading, and corn meal was sturdy, which would help keep everything together, or so I hoped.

I peeled the eggs carefully, smooshed the ground pork in my hands and carefully covered each egg. One egg kept poking through, but the rest worked out all right, and I dipped each over large meatball in the raw egg and dredged in corn meal.

The recipe called for frying in hot fat. While I do sauté any  number of things, I don't deep fry, and broke out a 4 qt (nearly 2L) pot with its lid and used about 2 tablespoons of bacon grease. I lowered the eggs carefully after patting a little more corn meal on each.

The troublesome egg did lose part of its pork sheath, and in the appetizing looks department I don't think i'd win any awards, but the troublesome egg did provide me with a visual of just how long it took the pork immediately touching the egg to cook, which was helpful since the recipe didn't. For those wanting to try this at home, I started out on high heat and after about 3 minutes, turned it back to medium heat (current cooker is an electric model). Everything seemed thoroughly cooked in 17 minutes, but for extra insurance, I didn't scoop them out until nearly 20 minutes had passed.

I ate the troublesome egg first. It was tasty even if there was a slight grey-green around the yolk, and the ground pork to egg ratio was a little less since part of its pork covering had fallen away. I was still hungry, having waited longer than usual to eat, so had a second one. I picked the most appetizing looking one of the bunch, and this was tasty, too, with a more favourable pork to egg ratio in every bite. I had mowed the lawn and cleaned out the gutters at the back of the house before lunch, and hockey is later this afternoon, so I should be sated until I get home about 7 pm. On a less physically active day, one Scotch egg would suffice.

The verdict? I like these, and shall try making them again. I can see where sausage would be tastier than plain ground pork, so next time around i'll either use sausage or remember to season the ground pork. I liked the taste the cornmeal added to the whole shebang, and am glad I did fry them rather than bake them, which I had considered doing.

I don't see myself making these often, but as a treat, when I want something filling for lunch, I can make a batch, and that can serve me for most of the work week for lunches. I've got one to heat up tomorrow so I can assess if it reheats well. I use a toaster oven for reheating and doubt i'll ever go back to using a microwave. Yes the latter is faster, but the former heats more evenly, and with something breaded, the breading doesn't get mushy.

I wish John were here to sample one to let me know if what I made is close to the mark. Just curious if it is. But whether it be or no, i'm not sorry I attempted to make them, so that is a success in my book.


  1. I'm glad you're playing the piano. That's a lovely goal. I hope you can make a video of yourself playing and post it. I'd love that. John makes me curious about Scotch eggs and many other things.


    1. Janie, i'm still a very new player, and I find that some tunes I have to play sound more mechanical than musical at this point, as i'm still finding my way on the keyboard and which notes I need in bass clef. Not as dreadful as new violin players but it still takes a long time for me to work out the simple pieces, even when I know them. The mind knows, the body has to learn the muscle coordination to follow.

  2. They do need to be deep fried, this would ensure both an even colour, and them not falling apart. Normally the bread crumbs used are those bright orange package type which give a nice colour. I've NEVER heard of a 30 minute boiled egg..... Crazy.

    1. Only the one fell apart, and I did keep turning them so they'd cook all over but can see where deep frying would have been easier. Except for the cleanup.

  3. I wish I was there too
    I have heard from tom only once since his disappearance from blog land
    He sounded ok and was having internet problems
    But I am worried about him too
    I will email him again
    And will let you know Megan if he's ok