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The Scotch Egg

In Defence of British Cuisine

By Tom BradPublished 3 years ago Updated 3 years ago 9 min read
The Scotch Egg
Photo by Sebastian Coman Photography on Unsplash

This post is part of the Vocal Cooks Collaborative.

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The Scotch Egg by TOM BRAD

You cannot trust people who have such bad cuisine. It is the country [Great Britain] with the worst food after Finland.

French President Jacques Chirac in a remark on the eve of the G8 summit in 2005

The French do not like the British, it is a long ingrained hatred. If you snapped a Frenchman in half and looked at his cross section, like a stick of seaside rock (another strange British delicacy), it would say it J’ai deteste les anglais (I hate the English). I should know because I live in Normandy. I have done for just over seven years. In my life I have lived in a lot of places Australia, Spain, long trips through South America, frequent holidays to Greece and a multitude of trips to a dozen other destinations. All these nationalities agree that British food is terrible.

The general complaint is British food is beige, overcooked and without flavour. The British built an empire on conquering the lands of spice but failed to add any to their cooking. The French hold the crown of premier cuisine and look down on anything that deviates from their high standards.

The truth is the French may be extraordinary bakers and sauce creators but their opinion is a dated opinion. It has not changed for seventy five years. The French idea that the best British cooking is French cooking can be found in this wonderful counter argument by the great author and essayist George Orwell from 1945!!!

Today the world is different. There are 700 different varieties of cheese in the United Kingdom, compared to 400 in France. As a resident here it is difficult to find a good flavourful hard cheese. The Camberbert, Roquefort, Neufchatel is incredible but they are all softer cheeses. The supermarket offers bland Cheddar, (nothing like the choice of Cheddar from home) or Emmental. Usually I have to opt for a Gruyere from Switzerland.

The United Kingdom is the home to smart culinary innovation and this is showing after the relaxations after this years lockdowns. In London a diversity and range of food has opened that caters for all tastes where the terraces of Paris are offering more of the same. A stagnation in imagination. French cuisine by the French is currently safe and slightly boring. The variety in choice is being offered by fast food, a shocking internal dilemma is happening to the French.

la république de la malbouffe (translation 'a junk food nation')

Jacques Goldstein French filmmaker

Now if this article ever gets translated into French I can expect the villagers to turn up at my door with pitchforks and torches. I live in France Prefend, deep France, the place where the nasty progressive modern world cannot penetrate and change. Yet I have a 'man Friday' a local guy who is a butcher by trade who helps me navigate my alien world and with various other jobs on the running of my small farm. Whenever my food cravings for home get too much or the recent world denies me a long overdue trip home; I turn to my kitchen. It is always hard to cook and eat alone and far better to cross cultural divides by sharing a plate. Anytime I get some contraband, normally Irish or British sausages, he is blown away by the herby flavour and taste range. This is from a guy who has devoted a large section of his life to making sausages. He is also surprised by some of our quirks, toad in the hole to him was a revelation. His favourite dish though was the simple homemade Scotch Egg.

The Scotch Egg

The Scotch Egg has a controversial origin. It is claimed it originates from Whitby, others say Fortnum and Masons, the luxury department store, in London invented them a 150 years ago. Some say it an English version of the Indian dish, Nargisi Kofta. In America they turn up at 'Renaissance' Fairs but were not around in the Renaissance. The only thing I can promise you is the Scotch Egg is not Scottish. Scotching references the mincing of the meat that covers it.

The Scotch Egg is a boiled egg, surrounded by minced meat (normally pork), bread crumbed and fried. It was the author Enid Blyton's favourite snack. Sadly though it has only recently emerged from a shameful past. For decades the Scotch Egg was a sad snack to eat in the car, brought from the sadder fridge of a motorway petrol (gas) station. The luxury snack of the train travelling elite purchased in Piccadilly in Victorian times had become cheaply mass produced and relegated to being a ridiculed as a snack you would not even dream serving at a buffet. If they did appear they were relegated to the back of the table behind the wilting salad.

So how did this lost delicacy resurface in the minds of a nation? Supper clubs, Bistro's and Foodies resurrected it. Back at the start of this century (the funky noughties) an irony entered British food innovation. This can be seen with Heston Blumenthal's deconstructed Black Forest Gateaux, an amazing cake which historically in the UK had been relegated to being mass produced in factories as a cheap family option.

We also had the re-emergence of the prawn cocktail, now as a luxurious starter, gourmet sausage rolls and somewhere inside all of that returned the Scotch Egg as the delicacy, to blow your mind.

If that wasn't enough the Scotch Egg also became a political hot potato in 2020.

With Covid restrictions crippling the hospitality sector all around the world. Some permissions were allowed to pubs and bars inside the UK if customers were served at the table and were eating a 'substantial meal'. The term substantial meal is an article of British Law regarding the licensing and sale of alcohol within the United Kingdom.

On the 30th November, Environment and Food Secretary George Eustice claimed that [Scotch Eggs] "probably would count" [as a suitable meal]. This started a massive debate through the media and courts of law and ended with this picnic snack being classed as a substantial meal by the High Court on the 1st March 2021. The Scotch Egg was the most talked about snack in Britain. This humble little snack surged again in popularity. So let me show you how to make one as after all, the great food critic, Anthony Bourdain, who used London as a second home enjoyed the occasional Scotch Egg when it was cooked just right.

How to Make a Scotch Egg

To make this you need some oil, Daddies Brown Sauce (other brands exist), Flour, Herbs, Vinegar, Garam Masala, Some really stale bread, 6 eggs and 6 sausages.

It is pretty easy and most these ingredients are interchangeable. You only really need the eggs, sausages, oil and stale bread. Although the key ingredient is flavour so do not forget to season, just have a play!!!

Boil 4 eggs, or as many as you like, it all depends how hungry you are. Place a little splash of vinegar in the water. Put the eggs in when the water is bubbling. 5 mins for runny yet cooked, 7 mins for soft, 10 mins for hard, 12 mins if you want to recreate the horror show of the overcooked eggs that used to live in those sad fridges from those long car journeys from yester year.

I like cooked but runny so we are going for 5 minutes.

After the right amount of time put the eggs in a colander and run cold water over them. This stops them cooking anymore and makes them easier to shell.

Shell your eggs. Dry them and roll them lightly in some flour.

Skin your sausages. You need about 1 and a half sausages for each egg. You can use sausage meat but why bother sausages are easier, tastier and cheaper. If like me you are stuck in France and need to use a foreign sausage meat you might need to add some flavour. Because I likes curry and I added half a teaspoon of Garam Masala, a big squidge of daddies, and a good shake of Herbs de Provence. Then stick your hands in and mix it together.

Tailor the mix to your taste. I have made mixes with mustard, mixes with honey, chilli powder is an interesting twist. Have a play.

Cut your sausage meat into equal sections. I am making 4 so I cut it into quarters and rolled them into balls. Individually pat them out into a flat oval, wrap the mix round your cooked egg.

So it looks like this....

Take your stale bread put it through a food processor and make your breadcrumbs.

Make your breadcrumb station. Breadcrumbs, Egg and Flour.

Dip your sausage egg ball in the flour.

Then in the egg and breadcrumbs. If you do not get good coverage just repeat the egg and breadcrumb stage.

So they look like these bad boys.

Fry them in about 2 centimetres of oil. The oil has to be sizzling. Use 2 large spoons to move them. Chuck in a bit of bread to test the oil. Be sensible here. Six movements should be enough. 30-40 seconds each movement. Bottom, Top, Left then Right, One end then the other. Drop them on some kitchen towel to remove the grease.

If you are worried that the sausage meat is not cooked you can whack them in the oven after you have fried them for 10 minutes or use a deep fat fryer. You looking for an even golden brown finish.

Cracking little starter or snack serve with a bit of cheese and pickle (another British condiment).

Pimping Your Scotch Egg

Now with the basics learnt you go anywhere with these. These are some varieties that have blew my mind.

Scotch Eggs made with minced rabbit, unbelievable.

The Manchester Egg, A Scotch Egg made with a pickled egg and black pudding. Definitely an acquired British taste, maybe do not serve this to international guests.

The Belfast Egg, A Scotch Egg wrapped in a combination of white pudding and sausage meat.

The Glasgow Egg, A Scotch Egg wrapped in haggis.

The Whitby Original, A Scotch Egg wrapped in fish paste. A surprisingly successful combination.

The truth is just have fun; Invent.


Stuck abroad, not able to travel, for me the Scotch Egg is a taste of home. A place that has felt too far away for too long. The French like them too; and they honestly hate anything that is not French. The secret is do not tell them about their decades long wilderness existence in sad truck stop fridges. Then even they embrace the simplest and great flavour of a gourmet crafted treat. Give them a long enough go at them and I am sure they will be claiming that this flavour bomb truly has gallic routes and we probably stole it off them many years ago.

By tabitha turner on Unsplash

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About the Creator

Tom Brad

Raised in the UK by an Irish mother and Scouse father.

Now confined in France raising sheep.

Those who tell the stories rule society.

If a story I write makes you smile, laugh or cry I would be honoured if you shared it and passed it on..

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