Sunday, April 25, 2010

scotch eggs for a family picnic

There was a definite, identifiable warmth in the balmy air this little potatoes have unfurled their first leaves which makes me as nervous as a new mother. How do I look after them? How do I protect them from those evil snails? I am not sure if snails like potatoes, but I do know that they have a penchant for mint. Upon inspection of my small slip of a crop this morning, I discovered that my poor plant had been attacked by not just one snail, but no less than six! I removed a family of them from the plant pot ... its me against the snails at the minute, and if I catch them near my little darling potatoes, it will be war!

After getting upset about the mint, I finally got myself together to make another batch of scotch eggs. I say another batch because the first batch I made lasted about ten minutes. No-one in our house had eaten a scotch egg for a decade at least, some never at all ... ten minutes later all six of them were gone. Cool Hand Luke once ate 50 eggs ... I bet he could have eaten more of these!

So picnic preparations had to begin again in earnest. Thankfully these are really easy and delightfully satisfying to make.

You will need, for a family sized picnic batch :

6 free range/organic eggs just under hard-boiled - about 8 minutes for a medium egg
8 (80% min.) pork sausages, skinned
75g slightly stale crusty white bread
25 g Parmesan cheese
2 tblsp of dried oregano, basil, tarragon
1 tsp smoked, sweet paprika

Boil the eggs for approx. 8 minutes until they just under hard-boiled.
Drain and replace the hot cooking water with fresh cold. This will reduce their temperature so that they are easy to handle and peel. Set aside.

Preheat the over to 200 degrees.

In a small blender, place small lumps of Parmesan, some slightly stale white bread (crusts too) and whizz until they are fine. Add the dried herbs and paprika and whizz until they are combined. You can also combine already prepared breadcrumbs and some finely grated Parmesan with the herbs and paprika. Place on a flat plate suitable for rolling the eggs. You can also leave out the breadcrumbs, however I like them and I don't.

Take each sausage and with a sharp knife, spilt it down the middle and ease out the meat into a bowl.
With wetted hands, take a plum-sized ball of sausage meat and press between your palms, squashing out the meat into a flat pancake. Take one hard-boiled egg and place it in the centre your sausaged-palm.
Wrap the egg with sausage meat until the egg is completely enveloped.
Obviously, the more sausage meat you add to the initial ball, the thicker the coating will be around the egg.

Make sure all cracks are covered and no egg is visible.

Roll it on the plate with the crumbs until all the sausage is covered. Place on an oven proof dish.
Repeat the process until all your eggs have been wrapped and rolled.

Place in the oven for 20 minutes or so until the outside is golden and crunchy.

Leave to cool and then enjoy.

These can be made the night before for a picnic but make sure they are completely cold before you wrap them and store them in the fridge - if they sweat, they will loose the lovely crispy crust.

There is something sublime about eating outdoors where space is not an issue and the children are free to run to and from the rug on the grass soaking up the warmth and enjoying the relaxed freedom of it all.
Eight friends, stretched out in Merrion Square in the sunshine enjoying Prosecco and scotch eggs discussing everything from pork pies, Cornish pasties and mushy peas to architecture, landscape and survival ... I conclude that without the scotch eggs, none of the rest of it is worth it!

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