Scotch Eggs from An Echo in the Bone
I put down my cup and stared at him.
“You don’t mean you aren’t planning to go ho-to go back to the Ridge?” I had a sudden empty feeling in the pit of my stomach, remembering our plans for the New House, the smell of balsam fir, and the quiet of the mountains. Did he really mean to move to Boston or Philadelphia?
“No,” he said, surprised. “Of course we shall go back there. But if I mean to be in the printing trade, Sassenach, we shall need to be in a city for a time, no? Only ’til the war is over,” he said, encouraging.
“Oh,” I said in a small voice. “Yes. Of course.” I drank tea, not tasting it. How could I have been so stupid? I had never once thought that, of course, a printing press would be pointless on Fraser’s Ridge. In part, I supposed, I simply hadn’t really believed he would get his press back, let alone thought ahead to the logical conclusion if he did.
But now he had his Bonnie back, and the future had suddenly acquired a disagreeable solidity. Not that cities didn’t have considerable advantages, I told myself stoutly. I could finally acquire a decent set of medical instruments, replenish my medicines — why, I could even make penicillin and ether again! With a little better appetite, I took a Scotch egg.
Diana Gabaldon, An Echo in the Bone (Chapter 74 – Twenty-Twenty)
The origins of the Scotch egg are a little up in the air, much like the short-term future of our favourite hero and heroine.
London’s Fortnum & Mason claims to have invented it as a portable snack for rich coach travellers in 1738. The eggs would have been smaller (from a pullet, or young hen,) and the meat would have been gamier, and with a texture more like a pâté rather than the modern sausage.
Others have speculated that Scotch eggs were inspired by nargisi kofta (“Narcissus meatballs”), a dish of minced meat and boiled eggs from the kitchens of 16th C Imperial India.
A third explanation is a little more pedestrian, which, in my opinion, makes it the most likely: the Scotch egg was a portable lunch made from leftovers; a variation of a Cornish pasty, bridie, or any other working man’s lunch from that era in Britain.
My Scotch eggs were a little light on the sausage — the quantities I’ve given in the recipe make up for this shortfall, and will leave you with slightly beefier eggs than the ones you see below.
Speaking of sausage, don’t feel the need to stick to the traditional pork breakfast variety. I switched things up a bit and used some fresh chorizo on half of the eggs, and turkey sausage on the other half.
I deep fried the chorizo eggs and baked the turkey ones. Although the baked Scotch eggs never browned to a beautiful golden like those fried in oil, they did crisp up nicely, to a point where I can honestly say that you’re not going to lose a lot of flavour if you forgo the mess and cleanup of deep fat frying and bake the eggs instead.
Because while JAMMF may very well live forever, the rest of us could probably stand to give our arteries a break.
: An easy, make-ahead, protein-packed snack that can be fried or baked.
- Eggs – 6 (see notes)
- Vegetable Oil (for frying) – 3 to 4 Cups
- All Purpose Flour – ½ Cup
- Salt – ½ tsp
- Cayenne – ¼ tsp (optional)
- Egg – 1
- Dried Bread Crumbs – 1½ Cups (I used Panko)
- Sausage – 1½ lb (see notes)
Place the 6 eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a full rolling boil, remove from the heat, cover, and set aside for 10 minutes. Drain, then cover the eggs with ice water until cool to the touch. Remove from hot water, cool completely and peel.
If frying your eggs, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high to 350° F. If baking your eggs, preheat oven to 400° F.
Assemble the breading station: stir together the flour, salt and cayenne in a small bowl or plate. Beat the remaining egg with 1 tsp of water. Place the breadcrumbs in a small bowl or plate.
Flatten about 4 oz. of sausage into a patty in the palm of your hands, and form it around the egg. Repeat with remaining sausage meat and eggs. Roll the sausage-covered eggs in the flour to coat lightly, roll in the beaten egg, then in the bread crumbs to cover evenly.
Deep fry until golden. Drain on paper towels. Alternatively, bake in the preheated oven until light golden, about 25-30 minutes.
Serve hot or cold.
- Hardboiled eggs made from farm fresh eggs can be difficult to peel. Use 7-10 day old eggs to make it easier. Store-bought eggs will be fine at any age.
- Pork breakfast sausage is traditional — but you can use any sausage your heart desires. Beef, turkey, even veggie!