As a recent arrival from the good old United Kingdom (Wales to be precise), there are many things I love about Chicago, and a few that I miss about home (pubs, hills and valleys, and the Metric system). There is however, one very British dish I feel should be eaten more often on both sides of the pond, one that ticks all my boxes and pushes all of my buttons, something that is truly more than the sum of its parts. I’m talking about hot crispy pork sausage, surrounding a perfectly boiled egg. I’m talking about the Scotch Egg!
Today, with the help of my trusty Vitamix (which we carry at The Chopping Block), I am creating my ultimate version, from scratch. Here’s how:
Okay, you don’t have to make your own sausage. You can buy it ready-made, you can buy ground pork and season it to taste, or just squeeze out the middles from your favorite links. Any of these will work just fine, and if so, you can skip these next steps and go straight to the technique. I really wanted to create my own perfectly-flavored, Welsh-influenced sausage, and I also wanted to know if I could effectively make a smooth-textured emulsified sausage in my Vitamix. I am always up for exploring what the Vitamix can do. If you’re feeling adventurous, this is the starting point.
The recipe makes 4-6 Scotch eggs.
500g (1.1 lb) Pork Shoulder (or ground pork)
90g (3 oz) Ice Water
30g (1 oz) Panko Breadcrumbs
60g (2 oz) Finely diced Leek
10g (1.5 tsp) Salt
3g (1 tsp) White pepper
½ tsp of Oregano, Rosemary, Thyme, & Nutmeg.
1 tsp Garlic powder
3 tsp Dried Sage
Optional 1.25 grams (or small pinch) of Pink Curing Salt/Prague Powder #1 (helps with color and flavor)
2 tsp Lemon juice
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp Wholegrain mustard.
Flour, milk, eggs and Panko for breading
I am using a steak cut from the shoulder, but you could use just about any cut of pork. The important thing, we can see by eyeballing it, is that we have around 30% fat to 70% meat ratio. This is perfect for sausage. Making sure the meat is very well chilled or semi-frozen, and therefore easier to cut, dice the meat and fat as small as you can. Keep them roughly separate, mix with your salt, sugar, dry spices, and place in the freezer for ten minutes to firm up.
Meanwhile, mix your lemon juice and Worcester sauce with enough crushed ice and water so it measures about 3 ounces.
We are making a meat emulsion, which is basically a stable blend of fat, protein and liquid components. Without getting too science-y, the important thing is to work fast and keep everything cold while we mix it. This is the fundamental principal of sausage-making. This will give us a texture that is smooth, juicy and springy like a good sausage should be. Without proper mixing, when heated, the meat will solidify, the fat will melt, the water will evaporate and everything will split. If you’ve ever had a burger or sausage that is crumbly, watery and falling apart, this is why.
Place the meat (not the fat yet) in your jug with half the water. Set your Vitamix on high, and process the meat in two second bursts while plunging the tamper into all four corners. Give it a break between bursts so the motor doesn’t overheat. When it looks well blended, add the fat and the rest of the water and repeat. It should look like this:
Smooth, emulsified and homogenous. Don’t worry if you have a few stray chunks in there, that’s just a little extra texture.
Place the mixture in a bowl and beat in the breadcrumbs and diced leek (provides an earthy, garlicky sweetness, and, just for trivia, is also the national vegetable of Wales!)
The emulsion can be mixed up till 57 degrees (I’m cutting it a little close here), after 60 degrees it is in danger of splitting. Just work fast, keep everything cold, and put the mix back in the fridge as soon as you’re done.
Now for the eggs.
My preference is to take them straight out the fridge and gently put them in boiling water for 7 minutes, maybe 7 and a half.
It depends how big your eggs are and how you like them. I am aiming for a jammy yolk, but do a few tests and see what works. When they come out, put them straight into cold water to stop the cooking.
I like to peel them over a bowl of cold water, cracking the shell and slipping a spoon underneath to release the egg, then dipping in the water to rinse off any shell pieces.
Get a little station set up for breading. It should look a bit like this:
The trick to doing this is to have some ice-water handy, keep your hands cold and wet so nothing sticks. Weigh out 4oz patties (or however much you like), spread it out in your palm:
Gently wrap the egg:
And form a ball with even coverage:
Roll in the flour, coat in egg-wash (beaten egg with a splash of milk), coat in breadcrumbs. If you like extra-crispy, and I definitely do, go back into the egg-wash and breadcrumbs again. You should try to keep a wet hand/dry hand system here, but I almost always forget and end up battering my hands. The most important thing is shaking off the excess flour/egg/breadcrumbs between each step – that will keep you in good shape.
The good news is you can totally do this the day before. Store in the fridge, uncovered if you like. The balls will end up subsiding into a slightly puck-like shape, which is actually a good thing for the next step. I never feel like busting out the deep-fryer if I don’t have to… so I’m using a Lodge cast iron skillet with about an inch of oil. Heat it to 375 degrees. Fry the eggs two or three at a time, the oil should come halfway up, and flip them when golden brown and delicious, about three minutes.
You will need to finish them in a 375 degree oven for 5-10 minutes. When the center is about 130 degrees you are good to go. Serve them with the barest hint of salad, some pickles, a selection of mustards (including the undisputed king… Colman’s English), and most importantly, a glass of cold beer!
When you think about it, this is a pretty clever dish. In a single bite, you have all the textures of hot crispy coating, juicy sausage, firm egg whites and jammy yolks, topped off with spicy mustard and crunchy pickles. But, you probably shouldn’t think about it too much. Just enjoy it, ideally outdoors on a sunny afternoon, in between sips of frosty ale!
Want to eat more eggs wrapped in meat? Braciole is an Italian classic, and my colleague Chef Sara Salzinski gives you a tutorial on making the ultimate comfort food here.
If you are interested in learning more about making sausage at home, don't miss our Sausage Party demonstration class coming up on Saturday, May 26 at Lincoln Square. Even though this is a demonstration, audience participation will be encouraged as our chef shows you the sausage-making process step-by-step. It will definitely be a party!