Tuesday, 22 March 2011

How I learned to stop worrying and love Scotch eggs

Sometimes opportunities appear which you just can't ignore. They come to you trussed up ready to be roasted - and you'd be a churl if you were to do anything other than grasp them by the scruff of the neck and give 'em a good wringing. Don't fight it. Slip your curled up claw inside and feel it.

When a copy of Manzine turned up with a recipe for Scotch eggs lolling on the page, it was obvious what time it was. The stars all pointed to getting in the kitchen, dusting off the megaphone and hollering 'more talk, more action. Let's make this shit real'.

According to this new tome, these meaty treats are part of some sort of new man/bachelordom kinda vibe which they're pushing for 2011. It's like Loaded but with less tits (although they do acknowledge them and their milky wonder) and more emphasis on offal foods. Fair dos. This may well be the case. But Scotch eggs have held a strange, intoxicating fascination for time without the dawn of a golden era of manliness being heralded. They appeal for a multitude of sinful reasons possibly too numerous, weird or obvious to number. In part, it's the mixture of great ingredients - eggs and meat in one feral breadcrumby ball - and their spatchcocking of different foody vibes - they've got one breadcrumbed paw in a gutter made of plastic wrapping and gassy scents. The other lives up the aspirational organic chef's sleeve.

It was a big day - The early afternoon was spent sourcing the ingredients. There's something very Enid Blyton about getting your tote out in the sunshine like a smug prick and dilly dallying between supermarkets searching out breadcrumbs. Proper, smug White Isle vibes going on. To be honest, if the hangover hadn't been so big, they could all have been sourced from the corner shop. But the Friday night delirium was still writ large, which was itself something to revel in.

The cooking process took a wee while but step by step these little morselets were pieced together with the help of regular breaks for snouts and cups of tea. Boiling the fuck out of the eggs, massaging the sausage meat, then slathering them in each other. In some ways, it's probably the most erotic experience of the year thus far. Which says a lot about the sort of year it's been. The only real difficulty wasn't in the compiling but in the cooking. The first batch came out looking slightly frazzled, but once bitten twice shy was not the mantra for the moment. It just increased the determination to really nail the next lot and made the whole process a shitload easier. And the taste? With a little tabasco, they were to die for.

Props to Manzine for pointing a brother in the right culinary path - This could possibly be the highlight of the year so far...

My take on the recipe (didn't get any of ingredient 8 until 4am the next morning. Too late)

The arsenal

The first crucial, yet tentative steps

Let the games begin

The opposition

Surprisingly they both got on rather well

Into the boiling fire hazard...

Boiling boiling boiling

(over) Done

I also got out of bed on Sunday still somewhat inebriated but with a burning desire to let the editorial staff at Manzine know that I'd got off my arse and done summat about this fixation. Here's what I drunkenly wrote to them... I need to get a fucking life...

"On 20 Mar 2011, at 13:55, Jim Ottewill wrote:


How are we? It's early Sunday afternoon and the stains of last night have run pretty deep. My eyes are red and my head is heavy. However, I'd like to email saying 'many kind thanks' for the latest issue of your fine publication. My Sheffield-residing buddy visited us in Hackney just the other week and arrived equipped with a copy - to use twattish terms, it's brought on many a 'LOL' round these parts.

Yesterday was possibly one of the most beautiful days of the year. So it seemed the perfect time to lock the doors, shut out the sun and take on your Scotch egg recipe. I've been an ardent supporter of this savoury snack for some time. Due to living in London Fields (I'd like to point out I'm from Oldham originally. I'm not sure why this matters. It probably doesn't does it? But it's good context), there are numerous vendors of artisan scotch eggs round these parts. Curiousity has often got the better of me and I've given a man in an apron as much as £4 for a Scotch egg infused with various foodstuffs - black pudding was the one for me - the verdict? Greasy as fook. But I'm a lover of the Scotched egg in it's most feral form - Service station, Pork Farms, in the gob, sweats, shivers - You can't touch that feeling.

So Saturday was a big day - I hunted down the ingredients from Peter Lyle's recipe (couldn't grab any panko so went in on the Paxo instead) and got to work - doubled the DNA dose as it's a mate's birthday today and thought I could impress by getting cocky in the kitchen. There were a few breaks to smoke and drink tea but after 2 hours worth of endeavour I was dancing round the kitchen with a grin on my face as wide as the Menai Straits. I haven't been that happy for some time. There were a few hairy moments during the deep frying stage - One of the eggs part exploded and I was vaguely worried that we might have a fire on our hands - but, apart from these mild moments of worry, it almost seemed too easy. There they were - these orange, sausagey balls of wonder. Flavoursome as fuck, especially with tabasco.

Please see the attached images - and I'd like to say thanks again. Life has changed in the last 24 hours and for once I think it's moving in a positive direction.

Nice one,