Merry is the month of May, heralding as it does the return of picnic season.
This little delicacy has an interesting history. They are not Scottish. The story goes that they were invented by Fortnum & Mason in London in 1738. Fortnum & Mason is primarily known as a luxury food purveyor, famous for their upscale picnic “hampers”/baskets, filled with upscale food. Kind of like Harry & David in the US, but H & D doesn’t hold Royal Warrants from HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Charles, the Prince of Wales, like F & M does, so if you order something from Harry & David you might as well just send someone coupons for Cheez Whiz, as far as Fortnum & Mason is concerned.
It is thought that Scotch eggs were created to be in these F & M picnic hampers. Scotch eggs are now commonly found in pubs, among other places, and ordered by the semi-inebriated, so not exactly a summer afternoon picnic along the Thames ca. 1820. We are not in Jane Austen’s England anymore. If they’re not Scottish, why are they called Scotch eggs? That is a corruption of “scorched,” so called because they were originally cooked over open flames.
I don’t consume a lot of Scotch eggs and when I do it’s not because I’ve worked up an appetite from punting on the Cam or having downed one too many pints at the Hare & Hounds pub. No, I make them for breakfast, because they are sausage, eggs, and bread in one convenient bundle.
1 lb. bulk pork sausage. Even better, 1 lb. English or Irish sausages, or breakfast sausages, casings removed.
Salt and pepper, especially pepper, if you used the bulk sausage
6 hard-boiled eggs, dunked in an ice bath so they cool down and stop cooking, and peeled. Hard-boil them a little less than you normally would because they’re going into the oven. You can also leave them a little runnier if you like that, but they have to be cooked enough to be peeled.
1 or 2 eggs, beaten, usually one good-sized one is enough
3/4—1 cup herbed breadcrumbs, as small as you can get them, on a plate
Divide the sausage by six and make six patties. Put an egg in the middle of each one and mold the sausage around it. The sausage should stick to the eggs. Roll each be-robed egg in the beaten egg. Then roll each egg in the breadcrumbs. This should all cling together cohesively.
Really you should deep-fry these in oil but you can bake them, which is far easier and less likely to have them fall apart on you and make a mess. Also this makes them slightly healthier, so you can hold your head high on your next visit to the cardiologist. Put the six eggs on a baking sheet and put in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for about half an hour, maybe less. You need to turn the eggs at least once during the process. Make sure the sausage is fully cooked; pork-induced food poisoning is not the goal.
For breakfast you may or may not want to do this, but these are traditionally served with a spicy mustard.