I’ve always rather liked Easter. I’m not religious, although I flirted with some happy clappy Christianity in my teens. I think I was more interested in the group of people who were mostly stranger than me than I was in the actual theology. But somehow, I’ve always liked the Easter break. I suspect it’s Spring that I like. And an unexpected long weekend. With Easter zipping about the year, depending what the moon is up to, it always seems to catch me unawares, so suddenly I’m faced with a long weekend. And the prospect of going to Galloway to see my parents. And sunshine. And lambs, and bright lime green leaves shining in the sun, proving that nature rocks.
Last year my chickens laid lots of eggs for Easter. Good chickens. This year the haul wasn’t so good. First of all one of my chickens died a couple of weeks ago. Thankfully it was while I was away so I didn’t have to deal with her wee dead body myself – I’m not very good with dead things. And then two of my reliable wee broon hens started moulting so they aren’t doing much in the way of laying. And then Mabel, big blousy Mabel, got broody again. So all she does is sit fatly in her stall, thinking (presumably) that if she stays there for a long enough an egg will miraculously appear, closely followed by a scritch and a scratch and the arrival out of said egg of a cute wee chicken. This seems highly unlikely given Mabel’s form (and more importantly the fact we have no cockerel).
So, the eggs we have are big and yolky and delicious, but there aren’t so many of them these days.
Never mind. When you give eggs to your father at Easter time it seems appropriate that they come with their own hand-knitted egg cosy. You know, just in case they get cold on the journey. So, I knitted Dad a chicken. I rather like her and may make some more. I also might tell you all how if you’re really interested (so do leave a message if you want to know how easy peasy this is to do… or even if you want me to make one for you one day… but you don’t get to choose which day, it would have to be a surprise, when the chookie muse takes me).
I keep hens. So I have a plentiful supply of fresh eggs.
I am Scottish and live in Scotland.
So the only surprise is that it’s taken this long to write about Scotch Eggs.
Firstly a word or two about fresh eggs. The very freshest of fresh eggs are not the eggs you want to hard boil. When eggs are straight out of the hen, the membrane between the egg white and the shell is tight up next to the shell, making them difficult to peel. As the days go by, air will permeate through the egg shell, creating a teeny tiny space between shell and membrane and the bubble space you will sometimes find when you have hard boiled an egg.
Do yourself a favour, poach or fry those extra fresh eggs, they’ll be much nicer.
But back to the Scotch Eggs. I haven’t identified precise quantities here. Eggs are different sizes and some will need more sausage to cover them than others. Oh, and you might want a really thick coating of sausage. Or not.
- some flour
- some getting on for stale bread (or use up those posh japanese panko breadcrumbs you were persuaded to buy and still have hanging around in your cupboard)
- sausage meat (about 1 1/2 sausages per egg)
- black pudding (about a quarter of a slice per egg)
- herbs, spices, salt and pepper
- Hard boil your eggs – ideally so they have a slightly squishy bit in the middle of the yolk. You may have your own fool proof method, but if not, try my method at the bottom of this blog.
- While the eggs are boiling, make your crunchy breadcrumbs. Cut some bread into wee cubes, about 1cm across. Place the cubes onto a baking tray and put them in a low oven to dry out and crisp up a bit. Once they are dried, smash them up – I do this by putting them in a high sided bowl and bashing them with the end of a rolling pin. You might prefer to put them in a plastic bag and pretend they are a disliked work colleague.
- Break an extra egg into a soup bowl and lightly beat it with a fork. Leave the beaten egg in this bowl
- Pour some flour into another soup bowl
- Place the breadcrumbs into a soup bowl too. you don’t have to use soup bowls of course, but I find a wide based bowl is easier than anything else.
- If you are using sausages, unpeel them into a bowl and add whatever herbs and spices you want to use (I added some smoked paprika and ground black pepper). Then chop up the black pudding nice and fine and using your hands, smoosh the black pudding and the sausage meat together
- Take big chunks of the sausagey mixture and pat it out till it forms a sausage meat blanket, about 1/2cm thick
- Now peel your eggs, then one by one make your scotch eggs
- Dip the egg in the beaten egg
- Roll the egg in flour
- Place the egg on a sausage blanket and wrap it up in, squooshing it together so there are no gaps
- Dip the sausage eggy ball in more beaten egg
- Roll the egg in breadcrumbs
- Place the breadcrumb coated sausagey eggy ball on a baking tray
- Repeat till you’ve run out eggs or sausage or the will to live
- Bake in a medium – hot oven (about GM5 or 6) for about 20 – 30 mins, or until they look and sound cooked
- Serve warm, or cold, with salad. Yes, salad. Don’t be a salad dodger!
How to boil an egg
- Keep your eggs at room temperature (I don’t think they need to be kept in a fridge, unless you have an outrageously warm kitchen)
- Put enough water in a pan so that the eggs you want to boil will be covered with water (and about 1cm more). The water should be about room temperature too.
- Place the eggs into the pan of water
- Put the water and eggs onto a hotplate, and bring to the boil
- Once the water is boiling, turn the heat down slightly so that it continues to boil, but doesn’t splutter everywhere
- Set the timer to 4 minutes
- Use your 4 minutes wisely – put ice and water into a bowl, big enough that your eggs will fit in it
- When the timer goes off, lift each egg out and pop it into the cold icy water
- German Scotch eggs (ladittatrice.wordpress.com)
- Manchester egg recipe (telegraph.co.uk)
- Scotch egg, anyone? (thecadogan.wordpress.com)
So, we now have five hens: Achilles, Hector and Wee Tommy are hybrids (Lohmann Browns) who have been with us since the Autumn. They give us an egg each pretty much every day. We also now have Betty and Mabel, a white and a blue Wyandotte. They came to live with our girls a few weeks ago and have stubbornly refused to lay. Until now. This week we had FOUR eggs one day. I suspect it’s Big Mabel who is laying, not wee Betty. I can’t imagine that Betty can produce a full sized egg, and all four eggs were bigger than your average, with lovely deep yellow yolks.
Anyway, as you can imagine, we’re eating a lot of eggy dishes these days, and this afternoon will see the production of a souffle for the first time, probably a cheese souffle.
But for now, it’s time for pics of my girls, so here you go, a selection from the last few weeks.
- Chickens In the Garden: A Broody Hen (heartseasecottage.typepad.com)
- Eggs, eggs, everywhere (bighouselittleprairie.com)
Last weekend we went to pick up two new chickens. Hens. Chooks. Girls. Whatever you want to call them.
And for the last week they have just been known as the new girls or the blue one and the white one. Or the new two.
But this morning they got names, over breakfast, as I was eating really delicious scrambled eggs on toast, watching them outside doing their chooky thing.
Mabel is being bullied by the three original girls. Whenever she gets close to them, especially when there’s food about, one of them will peck at her to chase her away. She runs pretty fast though so she’s not being harmed. And Betty, who is very petite and possibly a bantam, just hides behind Mabel so she’s ok.
Mabel and Betty haven’t started laying again yet after their winter break, but as the days get longer and spring starts to show, I’m sure they’ll be laying soon. At the moment we’re very happy with three eggs a day from Achilles, Hector and Tommy – and the eggs have got much bigger than when they first started laying, with rich dark yellow yolks – perfect for poached eggs, which is a regular quick supper these days.
Both Mabel and Betty are Wyandottes – a white and a blue – but they are so different from one another to look at. Personality wise, they are both much shyer and less talkative than the hybrids, with Mabel being protective of wee Betty. They are canny wee girls though – they’ve nabbed the nesting box for themselves, and they’ve worked out when to nip in and grab a treat without being pecked by the bullies.