Scotch eggs ... not for the faint of heart.

flag-mini-Scotland flag-mini-british Scotch eggs, the sausage-wrapped-breaded-fried-hardboiled-eggs that are a staple on English (and Scottish, if my casual online research serves me) pub menus, have nothing to do with Scotch and apparently do not hail from Scotland. Their invention is commonly attributed to Fortnum & Mason, the stalwart 300-year-old English grocer-to-the-royal-family famous for their wicker hampers filled with wines, teas, scones, olives, crackers, cookies, fruitcakes, teacups and chocolates. (I want one of those hampers! I'll take this one. Or this one. Or this ... EGADS. I just checked the pounds-to-dollars exchange rate! Fine, I'll settle for this one.)
Scotch eggs 10
Anyway, Scotch eggs ... the story goes that back in 1738 (or by some accounts 1851), a clever foodie at F&M wrapped small hard-boiled pullet eggs with ground meat or sausage -- possibly Scotch beef (that would be beef from those big, furry, redhaired Scottish highland cows) -- fried it up, and declared it fit for a picnic in the country. Indeed, Scotch eggs would be ideal for picnicking -- they are good* warm, cold or room temperature, pack easily and travel well. *Understatement of the year.
Scotch eggs 1
Scotch eggs may have been inspired by a North Indian dish called Nargisi Kofta, a similar meat-wrapped-egg (with meatless variations) floating in a sauce spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and garlic, although I'm sure the recipe varies widely from one Indian kitchen to the next. Considering how long England has been associated with India, some recipe borrowing was inevitable but Scotch eggs are simple, hearty fare and not exotic -- all the recipes I've seen call for the same combination of eggs, sausage, herbs and breadcrumbs, with no aromatic vestiges of their supposed Indian ancestry.
Scotch eggs 2
This recipe comes from my other favorite Bon Appetit -- the May 2004 "A Taste of Scotland" issue. I think they grossly erred when placing it under the section called "Too Busy to Cook? Quick and easy favorites from Scottish readers." Quick? I don't think so! Easy? Well sure, but this is not a dish one throws together on a whim, unless you've already boiled/cooled/peeled the eggs, blitzed the breadcrumbs in a blender, chopped the herbs, squished them into the sausage, and set up your fryer.
Scotch eggs 4
Yes, those are sausage links in that bowl because our favorite brand -- Johnsonville -- didn't come in one of those handy tubes, and yes I pulled each one out of its filmy little casing so it looked like I had a pile of miniature condoms on the counter. And I didn't bother taking a picture because no one wants to see that.
Scotch eggs 6
Assembly is easy, but not exactly zippy: roll an egg lightly in flour, work a blob of herbed sausage around it to coat completely, brush with an egg/mustard mixture, roll in fresh breadcrumbs, and lower into hot oil.
Scotch eggs 7
Tip: wrangling a camera with flour, sausage and breadcrumbs on your hands in order to get good pictures for your blog is tricky at best, so not photographing the process will save you lots of time and multiple handwashings.
Scotch eggs 8
I rarely fry foods, but found it was quite painless and not even that messy, especially with the hood fan sucking up those hot oil vapors (although, oddly, the house still managed to smell like fried fish throughout the day). With a thermometer in the pan, I was able to keep the oil temperature just about right so each egg took the allotted 5-6 minutes to fizz to a nice deep brown. After a brief rest on some paper towels, they were sliced in half and served with mustard, ketchup and cold beer, alongside apple slices and carrot sticks to give the delusion illusion of a healthy, well-rounded pub snack.
Scotch eggs 11
Oh my stars and garters, they were really REALLY good!** And hard to resist. Munching on them fresh(ish) out of the fryer, with a cold Smithwick's close by, I had to restrain myself after two. I'm pretty sure it was only two. **Extreme understatement of the year.
Scotch eggs 12
I could have kept eating them with no regard for my waistline or the state of my arteries. I hope we had the good sense to have a big salad for dinner, but all I can remember about that entire day, foodwise, was these eggs.
Scotch eggs 13
Look at that. Two left! I confess it took my entire supply of willpower to save them for others in the house.
Scotch eggs final
I don't give a hoot about the nutritional shortcomings of deep-fried-sausage-eggs. If I have anything to say about it, those things won't last past the weekend.

Their English pedigree notwithstanding, Scotch eggs are, I am confident, enjoyed by the Scottish, too. And possibly the Irish. Maybe even the Welsh! I found the "receipt" in several of my own cookbooks including Favourite Scottish Recipes and Celtic Folklore Cooking, as well as in the The Scottish-Irish Pub and Hearth Cookbook. But to get your tastebuds together with a Scotch egg sooner than later, I've included the Bon Appetit recipe below. You can thank me later -- when your personal trainer gets through with you.

Scotch Eggs with Fresh Herbs
From Bon Appetit -- May 2004 "A Taste of Scotland" issue
Makes 6 (note that doesn't say
serves 6)

1 pound bulk sausage meat
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 large egg
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (or your favorite mustard)
5 cups fresh breadcrumbs made from crustless French bread
(this is way too much -- 2-1/2 cups is more than plenty)
1 cup all-purpose flour
(this is also more than necessary -- 1/2 cup is quite enough)
6 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled

Vegetable oil (for deep-frying)

Mix sausage, chives, and parsley in medium bowl to blend. Whisk egg and mustard in bowl to blend. Place breadcrumbs in large bowl (or pie plate). Place flour in another bowl. Roll 1 hard-boiled egg in flour. Using wet hands, press 1/3 cup sausage mixture around egg to coat. Brush egg with mustard mixture, then roll in breadcrumbs, covering completely and pressing to adhere. (Repeat egg/mustard mixture and breadcrumbs for extra breading.) Place coated eggs on plate. Repeat with remaining eggs.
(Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerated.)

Add enough oil to heavy large saucepan to reach depth of 1-1/2 inches. Attach deep-fry thermometer and heat oil to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Add 3 prepared eggs to oil; fry, turning occasionally, until sausage is cooked through and coating is deep brown, about 6 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer eggs to paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining 3 eggs. Serve warm with mustard, ketchup, or other favorite condiments.

As always, feel free to leave a comment -- but preferably not a note from your physician advising you to stay away from this blog -- below.