In honour of the great David J Constable and his noble Scotch Egg punditry I shall follow his lead and refer to the subject of this post as ‘orbs’. I aim to provide a reliable recipe for Scotch eggs/orbs, detail the qualities of required ingredients and give some suggestions for things to serve with them.
Let us be in no doubt, orbs can provide remarkable pleasure for what is seems a relatively simple serving of meat combined with ovum. However, to make this nibble a success there is skill required in preparation and selection of ingredients. Any old rubbish cooked any old way simply will not do. This is why Marks and Spencer’s orbs are rubbish and Sainsburys’ orbs are shameful lumps of disgust. The orbs Dani has been working on for the past few weeks have pleasured me immensely.
And on that note, I will lean over to the next desk and harass Dani for his recipe: you will need:
500g sausage meat
5 eggs + 1 for adhesive purposes
Salt and pepper
Several litres of vegetable oil for deep fat frying
Make sure the sausage meat and eggs are all at room temperature.
First boil the eggs. Put the eggs in a pan of cold salted water. Bring to the boil as quickly as possible, then reduce the heat to a simmer. The length of time to boil the eggs depends on the size of the eggs and whether they were at room temperature. For medium eggs I’d suggest simmering them for 4 minutes, for large ones around 5.
Cool the eggs under cold running water for at least 10-15 minutes.
Carefully peel the eggs.
Put the sausage meat in a bowl, add a lot of salt and black pepper and mix together. If the sausage meat is coarse you may want to add a little olive oil to make mixing and shaping it easier.
Sprinkle some flour on a plate and season with a lot of black pepper and salt.
Pour some bread crumbs into a soup plate.
Beat the sixth egg in another soup plate.
To assemble an orb:
Take one fifth of the sausage meat, shape it into a ball and then flatten it to a thin patty of about 13 x 10 cm.
Roll the egg in the flour and spice mixture, coating as much of it as possible.
Shape the sausage meat around the egg. Make sure it covers the entire egg evenly.
Roll the sausage meat covered egg in the beaten egg, then coat it with breadcrumbs. You probably want to pour some bread crumbs on top and roll it around a few times, then press gently to make all the breadcrumbs stick.
Place the orb on a plate, and continue with the remaining ones. If you don’t want to cook the orbs straight away, you can put the plate in the fridge until the time you do.
Frying the orbs:
Heat vegetable oil to 175 degrees. Make sure there is enough oil to fully cover the orbs.
Place two orbs into the deep fat fryer and fry for 6-8 minutes, until they are a beautiful golden brown. You may want to turn the egg over once or twice whilst cooking to ensure a uniform colour.
Repeat with the three remaining eggs.
Many thanks Dani. I can assure you all he has successfully manipulated orbs in this manner on many occasions.
As with all food, quality of ingredients matters. We have experimented with egg suppliers and meat-mongers.
If you must buy eggs from a supermarket the ones to get are undoubtedly Clarence Court Mabel Pearman’s Burford Browns which you can get online from Ocado or in Mr Waitrose’s fine supermarkets. Burford Browns are delicious eggs and, even if they are not as fresh as when my mother had a couple of the fowl in her back garden, it’s great to be able to buy such quality ova from a supermarket and even get them delivered to your home after the slight effort of visiting a website. These eggs work a treat for constructing orbs and you should not be ashamed of using them.
It’s far better if you have quality layers within strolling distance. A stand in the brilliant Hampshire Farmers’ Market sells free-range eggs from Kings Somborne. These eggs won the Radio Solent prize for best tasting eggs (what an odd piece of radio that taste-test must have been) and they are utterly corking. They’re really top quality, taste great and, as I have an eye for a fresh egg, these never disappoint when I crack one for a Full English. You can tell a fresh egg by the degree of association between the white and yolk; the less fresh the egg the more separated and runny the white will be. A good, fresh egg has a thick white in a firm disc around the yolk. These were truly stunning as the basis for orbs and we will endeavor to only source Kings Sombourne eggs until we can find an even better producer – remember, the limits of pleasure are yet to be defined or reached (even with eggs).
Meat is quite naturally a serious consideration when thinking of orbs. We tried sausagemeat from Greenfield Pork Products, Hampshire’s supreme sausage champion, and it just wasn’t quite good enough. It seemed a bit too minced and of slightly slimy texture. It needed an awfully large amount of seasoning to get the best flavour out of it, and even then it just didn’t quite make orbs of maximal quality.
Sausage meat from Beechcroft farm, on the other hand, blew our minds with its class and taste. This is the stuff that goes into their Old English chipolatas you may recall me waxing lyrical about. The evidently superior quality of this meat made for incredibly enjoyable orbs and our guest on the first night we made these commented after noshing through two of them that he never imagined humble orbs could provide so much satisfaction.
The general rule I’d suggest for sausage meat is a relatively high meat content with not too much rusk (although there is no shame in having rusk as it is an important binder). Beechcroft’s sausagemeat is 83% pork which seems about right to me. You also want it to come from an interesting and tasty breed of pig, not some boring Danish swine. Beechcroft have Oxford Sandy and Blacks and these really taste fantastic. It’d worth trying to find some Mangalitsa pig sausagemeat as these taste mind-blowing.
As far as drinks go beer would suit this great pub bar snack. I’d go for a bitter and hoppy golden ale, pale ale or IPA. Those thick, malty, soupy, 5%+ real ales are almost invariably nauseating. Bit of refreshing bitterness would work a treat, and I think some Gueuze would be a great match as well.
Obviously I rather like wine with my food so I would suggest a vigorous and young Burgundy that has plenty of fruit and good acidity to compliment the fatty richness of orbs. We first had them with some Christophe Roumier Chambolle-Musigny and the 2007 was a far better food match than the 2009. Young Nuits or Morey would also be a good match but I wouldn’t go for anything too grand. If you are weird enough not to like Pinot then head to the Loire valley for a Cabernet Franc, they have the bright fruit and acidity. Bernard Baudry’s Chinons are delicious. If you want a white wine I’d suggest a Sancerre, Jean-Laurent ‘Le Homme’ Vacheron’s are best (his reds, also listed on the page I link to here, would also be a treat).
Finally, you’ll need some condiments. Mustard is a must: go for Taylors – the first prepared mustard to be sold on the English market. I also got a rather large amount of pleasure with some freshly prepared aioli (here’s my recipe for aioli). Another stunner I got from Beechcroft Farms’ farm shop, but they also have a stand in Hampshire Farmers’ Markets, is Perfect Pickles Red Hot Tomato Chutney. Being a relatively recent convert to ginger I was stunned by how much I enjoyed this and how well it went with the orbs.
My personal favourite accompaniment to orbs is a pickled onion. Perfect Pickles examples are floridly brilliant and I cannot recommend them highly enough. If you cannot make it to a market in this area drop Perfect Pickles’ boss man Dwayne an email (here) and tell him you want to get your hands on his peerless onions as David Strange says they’re the kangaroo’s knackers.
I hope that provides you with a reasonably good overview of the pleasures orbs can provide. Naturally, if you want more information about orbs, the place to go is Forevereggsploring where Mr Constable will furnish you with all the orb facts you need to know. Do make, eat and enjoy these wholesome snacks; they are a great treat to brighten any day!