Thursday, May 5, 2011

Vegetarian Scotch Eggs

The scotch egg, for those who haven't grown up with this snack, is a hard boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, breadcrumbed and then deep fried. It is traditionally eaten cold at picnics, in a packed lunch or as finger food at parties and I think it is delicious with Heinz salad cream.

In recent history the scotch egg had become a sad orange-crumbed shadow of its former self that could be found in supermarkets, motorway service stations and corner shops to satisfy the hungry & desperate. However, I am glad to report that over the last couple of years there has been something of a renaissance for the lowly scotch egg with artisan varieties to be found at delicatessens, country fairs and food shows. Yippee, is all I can say. It is about time that this dish got a makeover.
This recipe is a basic vegetarian version made with beans instead of sausage meat but once you have mastered the basic technique you can have a go at making some different flavoured ones. How about adding hoisin sauce and spring onions or curry paste and fresh coriander or sundried tomatos and thyme. Or how about changing the standard chicken egg for duck eggs for a real yolky treat or quails eggs for hors d'oeuvre sized scotch eggs. There really is no end to the possibilities for homemade scotch eggs.

This dish can be gluten free by ensuring the seasonings (e.g. stock/boulion & mustard) are gluten free and that the flour and breadcrumbs are substituted for gluten free versions. If you cannot get hold of  gluten free breadcrumbs you can make your own with gluten free bread or rolls blitzed in the food processor and gently baked in the oven until crisp.

Vegetarian Scotch Eggs (makes 4)
Vegetarian, dairy free, gluten free

4 eggs
430g Can of red/kidney beans
100g Zucchini/Courgette, grated
2tsp Grainy mustard (ensure it is gluten free) or substitute 2tsp tomato paste/puree
1tsp Finely chopped garlic
1/2 tsp Freshly ground black pepper
20g Finely chopped onion
1tbsp Fresh chopped basil
1/2tsp Chopped rosemary
1tsp (Gluten free) bouillion powder
1 Egg, beaten
150g (gluten free) Flour
150g (gluten free) Breadcrumbs
Canola or sunflower oil for deep frying

  • First bring a pan of water, big enough to hold 4 eggs, to the boil. Lower the heat to a low simmer  then carefully add the four eggs. Cook for 6-7 minutes. 
  • Once the eggs are cooked, remove from the heat, drain and run them under cold water before leaving in a bowl of cold water to cool. Once cool peel them and set them aside until later.
  • In the meantime, drain and rinse the can of beans. Place in a bowl  with the grated courgette/zucchini and mash to a coarse mixture or use a hand blender to pulse. 
  • Next add the mustard, garlic, onion, black pepper, herbs and boulion powder and mix well and mash a little more to combine all the ingredients. 
  • Once the eggs are cool,  remove from the water and pat dry. Flour your hands then take  one quarter of the bean mixture and fold it around one of the hard boiled eggs. If the bean mixture is very wet  and unworkable then add 1-2tbsp of flour and mix. Repeat with the remaining three eggs. 
  • We are now going to breadcrumb the egg & bean mixture by first rolling in flour, then dipping into egg and finally rolling in breadcrumbs. It is easiest if you set up a  shallow dish for each of the flour, egg and breadcrumbs and  place in the order that you need them.  Now roll each egg into the flour, then the egg and then the breadcrumbs ensuring that the whole mixture is evenly covered. 
  • In a pan heat up the oil over a medium heat, enough to cover one of the eggs. The oil is ready when a breadcrumb sizzles on being dropped into the pan. Deep fry the eggs for around 8-10mins, turning occassionally until golden brown all over. Alternativey, if you are not worried about the shape of the eggs (they will turn out more square than round this way) they can be shallow fried and turned to ensure each side is golden brown. The eggs cooked by shallow frying should take a little longer  to brown at 10-13 mins. 
  • Remove the eggs from the oil with a slotted and place on kitchen paper to allow the excess oil to drain off. Cool and keep in the refridgerator until ready to eat. They will last a couple of days in the fridge and I think they taste best the day after cooking.

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