Sunday, June 13, 2010

Scotch Quail's Eggs

Figuring resistance to the World Cup is futile I started planning dinners in front of the tele for England matches as I know that's where the man will be. Finger food but more substantial than nuts. Plenty of napkins.

In my mind's eye I laid out a fabulous feast for Saturday night, eclectic, interesting with guaranteed delight in every bite. In much the same way that England went in expecting a win and ended grateful for a draw I fumbled the final result and created a meal that was less than the sum of its parts. More miscellaneous mishmash than desirable diversity.

Desperate for more summer rolls but this time with prawns and using vietnamese basil from a plant in the garden. Variations on this theme are becoming a motif for the summer. Had to have asparagus because the season is too short to waste a single opportunity, but decided I would make aioli with some spring garlic rather than hollandaise. These two dishes are not natural companions but I didn't really think of that. I also really really wanted to make some mini scotch eggs using quail's eggs which, when they existed only in my mind's eye, were tiny things that were no more than a single mouthful of lightly spiced pork encasing the egg with a warm runny yolk. How hard could it be? Figuring they could also be dipped into the aioli, thereby tying all the elements together, all would be well.

The rice paper rolls were lovely and prawny but the dipping sauce - a mix of soy, chilli and sesame sauces lacked the delicacy to match them. The asparagus was fabulous and the aioli, though strong, was really good. But it belonged to a different meal to the rolls.

The quails eggs were way too difficult to peel with runny centres, the smallest pressure had yolk squirting everywhere. Four of them ended so empty there was no point taking it further. I was determined to have them, so I rolled the rest in pork and crumbs and, as you can see, they ended up the size of tennis balls not golf balls. They were not really runny in the centre and they were a little underseasoned. Balls! Slathered with aioli they were pretty yummy. Did they make a good match with the rest of dinner? No. But on the basis that things won't be perfect on the first attempt I will definitely make them again.

Scotch Eggs

The recipe comes from Heston Blumenthal, is easy to follow and should make a dozen scotch eggs, barring disaster.

12 quail eggs
A couple of cocktail sticks
480g best-quality pork sausage meat
Salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper, to taste
150g Japanese breadcrumbs or white home-made ones
3 medium eggs, beaten
Plain flour for coating
1.5 litres groundnut or corn oil, for deep-frying

Heat a pan of water to boiling point, prick the tops of the quail eggs with a cocktail stick and cook the eggs — one minute if you want a softer set, or 2 minutes and 15 seconds exactly if you prefer them hard. As soon as your timer goes off, remove the eggs from the boiling water and plunge them into a bowl of iced water as quickly as possible.

While the eggs are cooling, season the sausage meat with salt, a small pinch of cayenne pepper and black pepper, then check the seasoning either by frying a little in a pan or microwaving for 20-30 seconds and tasting. The meat will need to be well seasoned.

Shell the eggs under water in a small bowl and wrap each one in 40g (a golf ball) of sausage meat. The easiest way to do this is by first making a ball of sausage meat, then flattening into a shape big enough to go around the egg. Press the edges together to seal, taking care not to squash the egg inside.

Put the plain flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs into three separate bowls. If using Japanese breadcrumbs (try Mount Fuji;, break them up slightly with your fingers to make it easier to coat the sausage meat.

Roll the scotch eggs in the flour, gently tap off any excess, then roll them in the beaten egg and, finally, the breadcrumbs.

Put them in the freezer for 5 minutes to harden the breadcrumb coating, then dip again into the egg and breadcrumbs.

Deep-fry — you can use an ordinary wide frying pan, but make sure the oil covers the eggs — for 2-3 minutes until golden brown, then finish in a hot oven for a further 2-3 minutes.

Cold next day for breakfast they were crunchy and lovely. There will be more!


Reena said...

Hi Bron. I love scotch eggs and I tried Heston's at the Hind's Head in Bray - they were probably the best I have ever eaten. Now you have shared the secret recipe I'll have to give them a go. Take care. Reena

Stacey Fisher and Natashka Goolsby said...

Hi Bron! thanks for the comment back on Peanut Butter & Jealous. I'm enjoying your blog and am so envious of your proximity to Borough Market, one of my very favorite places in London. My English hubby loves Scotch Eggs, so I plan on giving this recipe a try. I will let you know how it goes! Stacey x

bron said...

Reena i'd eaten them once before at an event organised by the Sherry Institute of Spain - let me recommend trying them with a lightly chilled amontillado. It works!

Stacey hope they work for you! I have to admit I didn't test cook a little of the mix before I rolled the eggs and should have! They did need a little more seasoning. Would love to hear how you get on.

heavenwildfleur said...

oh i love scotch eggs but i'm always a bit scared of deep frying anything, especially without a deep fryer. So much oil involved! hehe...

bron said...

I am a big scaredy cat with boiling oil too! They are about the second thing I have ever deep fried but I did use a very deep saucepan so there was a good couple of inches above the sizzling liquid. Kind of recommend it but approach with confidence.

Valentina said...

Bron, you have no idea how much I loved reading this recipe. i am a lover of quail eggs. I grew up on it. I 'must' try this recipe. And thank you so much for the visit to a wee bit of sugar. I read that you live near Borough market.It is a place that I like to visit but shopping is sometimes very unpleasant from my experience. I must take some tips from you on stalls with good service.

bron said...

Valentina the trick with a good experience at Borough these days is to go as early as possible to avoid the hordes of tourists, which is a shame. The big food markets in other countries like Barcelona and Paris manage to operate as markets for local consumption but the trustees here seem to want to make it 'an experience' which is a shame for people who really want to shop.

Jeanne @ CookSister! said...

I always find the size of Scotch eggs a little daunting - but these would be little crispy nuggets of perfection!

bron said...

Tis true Jeanne - hot warm or cold, particularly if they have a runny yolk, these make perfect snacks.