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What Is a Scotch Egg?
A scotch egg is a British pub snack consisting of a boiled egg encased in ground meat, coated with bread crumbs, and fried until the exterior is crispy and the meat is cooked through. Some scotch eggs have runny yolks, others are hard-boiled; they can be served straight out of the fryer or at room temperature.
While most scotch eggs today are made with flavorful pork sausage, it’s thought that they were traditionally surrounded by forcemeat (lean meat ground with fat). Most people assume scotch eggs are Scottish in origin, but the history of this simple snack is actually pretty complicated.
Where Did the Scotch Egg Come From?
London department store Fortnum & Mason claims to have invented the scotch egg in 1738 as a sort of travel snack for their wealthy customers. The original F&M scotch egg was made using a small pullet egg and forcemeat seasoned with pepper and mace. But another theory purports that the scotch egg was inspired by nargisi kofta, an Indian dish of a boiled egg coated in minced lamb, fried, and served with kofta, a brown yogurt-based sauce, that could have made its way to England via British soldiers stationed in India. Meat-wrapped eggs aren’t just found in India, though—a North African version may have been brought to England via France as early as the sixteenth century.
Whatever scotch egg’s true origins, it’s clear that meat-wrapped eggs aren’t just one person’s invention. (Sorry, Fortnum & Mason!) But where does Scotland come into all this? Some say that scotch refers not to the country, but to a method of cooking. The word scotch did once refer to the process of cutting or scoring meat, but since scotch eggs are made with ground meat, the connection doesn’t seem immediately clear. While it’s hard to find concrete evidence of the scotch egg’s origins, at least once recipe appears in a popular nineteenth-century Scottish cookbook, but by that time the snack was eaten throughout Britain.
5 Tips for Making the Perfect Scotch Egg
- Fresh eggs are harder to peel than those that have been sitting in the fridge for a while. If you’d like to use farm-fresh eggs, make sure they’re at least a week old. You can test an egg’s freshness by placing it in a glass of water: If it sinks, it’s fresh. If it rises, it’s old.
- For runny egg yolks, boil the egg for 4 minutes. For fully cooked yolks, boil 6 minutes. Remember that the egg will continue to cook in the oven or fryer, and that runnier eggs will be harder to peel.
- After boiling, drain eggs under running water or submerge in an ice bath to avoid over-cooking. Allow eggs to cool completely before peeling: They’ll come away from the shell a bit and will be easier to peel.
- Coat the peeled, boiled eggs in flour before applying the sausage and breadcrumbs—this will help the other ingredients adhere to the eggs.
- Scotch eggs are traditionally made by deep frying, to get that extra-crispy crust, but for an easier alternative you can bake them in the oven. Or try a combination of both: First quickly deep-fry the eggs, then finish cooking in the oven.
What Do You Need to Make a Scotch Egg?
Gather the following ingredients and tools before setting out to make scotch egg for the first time:
- Ground meat, such as pork sausage or seasoned ground pork
- Breading, such as panko breadcrumbs, crushed corn flakes, and/or rolled oats
- All-purpose flour
- Oven or deep-fry setup: deep fryer or large pot, deep-fry thermometer, and paper towels (for draining)
Easy Baked Scotch Eggs RecipeEMAIL RECIPE
- 1 lb pork breakfast sausage, casings removed
- Salt, to taste
- 4 whole large eggs plus 1 egg, beaten
- All-purpose flour, for dredging
- ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ½ cup rolled oats
- Pinch black pepper
- 1 teaspoon olive oil or other vegetable oil
- Heat oven to 400°F. Divide sausage meat into four equal portions, roll into balls, and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to boil over high heat. When the water is boiling lower the eggs into the boiling water with a slotted spoon. Boil the eggs for 4 to 6 minutes (4 minutes for runny yolks, 6 minutes for creamy yolks). Meanwhile, fill a medium bowl with ice, cold water, and salt. When the eggs are done boiling, transfer to the ice water bath and let cool. Once cool, dry the eggs and carefully peel.
- Place flour in a shallow bowl. Place beaten egg in a second shallow bowl. Combine the breadcrumbs, oats, and black pepper in a third shallow bowl. Gently roll the peeled eggs in flour to coat.
- Rub a thin layer of oil on your hands. Press a sausage ball into your hands to flatten to a thickness of about ⅓ inch. Repeat to form 4 sausage patties. Place a floured egg in the middle of each patty and wrap the patty around the egg. Smooth the surface of the sausage so to form an even coating.
- Gently dip each sausage-coated egg into into the beaten egg, fully coating. Next, coat each egg in the breadcrumb mixture to cover completely. Place scotch eggs on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake eggs in the middle rack of the oven until breadcrumbs are golden brown and sausage is firm and fully cooked (the internal temperature should be 160°F), about 20-30 minutes. Rotate eggs if they appear to be browning unevenly. Serve hot or room temperature.
What Do You Serve With Scotch Egg?
Scotch eggs can be eaten plain, on the go, but at pubs and restaurants they’re often sliced in half and served with mustard sauce and pickles. They also go well with hot sauce or ranch dressing—the acidity cuts the richness of the scotch egg. Or add to the decadence and serve with gravy, a combo that’s been popular since at least the nineteenth century.