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Cracking: all you need to know about London’s scotch egg scene

Posted at 3:30 pm, September 27, 2014 in Food & Drink
Scotch Egg

Behold the mighty meaty mouth-sized morsel: currently more on-trend than tie-dye tank-tops and far better to eat. Becky Lucas chats to eggspert David Constable to discover where to find the city’s most eggsellent eggsamples…

David, how many scotch eggs have you sampled in your three-year hunt to find the finest?
‘Umpty-thousand. One night I sampled more than 36, I’ve had a slice of the largest ever (created by the store Fortnum & Mason in 2011; weighing 6.955kg, using an ostrich egg), and make them regularly at home.’

Why did you launch forevereggsploring.com, dedicated to the savoury snack?
‘Because I was broke, bored, unemployed and hungry. I decided to focus solely on the Scotch egg; fortunately for me, its renaissance was just beginning.’

So why are scotch eggs so chic(k) right now?
‘They’ve been on the on the comeback for several years, starting with the creation of the gastropub; landlords saw fit to return them to menus along with pork pies and scratchings. People were going crazy for pig again. Recycling old pub-grub classics saw lapsed ingredients repackaged and re-emerge, spearheaded by “the golden-orb”. Beautifully designed, portable and tasty, it now reigns supreme.’

Are they originally from Scotland (Scotch-land)?
‘Noooo, no, no. The word “scotch” originates from “scotched”, which means “processed”. The fact it sounds similar to “Scotland” – and they’re deep-fried – led people to think they’re from Scotland. It’s commonly thought that royal London corner shop Fortnum & Mason invented them in 1738 to fortify travellers leaving Piccadilly.’

Scotch eggs are best eaten with…
‘A beautiful girl and a pint of Wandle Ale (Sambrook’s Brewery).’

Hot or cold?
‘Steaming hot. You get that fragrant smell of hot pig, the pleasing crunch from the breadcrumb shell, and done correctly, that oozing yellow yolk from the egg, spilling across the plate in greedy excitement.’

Weirdest specimen thus far sampled?
‘Many try to push the boundaries, but most fail miserably. I’ve tried so many: curried, kangaroo, cheese, wild boar, beef, venison, black pudding, truffle; with hen egg, duck egg, ostrich egg, quail egg; but the weirdest has to be the one with a beetroot infused egg.’

Too eggsperimental?
‘Eggsactly’.

David’s top five scotch eggs

1. The Harwood Arms
‘Still one of the best around, this Michelin-starred pub’s entry sees an egg cushioned by venison meat and generously rolled in breadcrumbs. It has never failed to deliver an oozing, runny yolk that spills easily from its interior. Impossible to share.’ 27 Walham Grove, SW6 1QR. £3.50.

2. Opera Tavern
‘Perhaps London’s most Mediterranean specimen, the Morcilla scotch egg infuses pork and veal mince, with marjoram herb and lemon zest. Serving suggestions include dipping it in alioli (a sauce made from garlic, olive oil and lemon zest) and chasing it with a glass of icy cold beer.’ 23 Catherine St, London WC2B 5JS. £5.50.

3. The Bull & Last
‘The egg here has gained a cult following, including support from local resident Neil Morrissey. Made daily using their own mix of special sausage meat and piled high on the bar counter, they last only a few minutes before being gobbled by locals and passing, piggish ramblers.’ 168 Highgate Road, NW5 1QS. £4.

4. Peyton and Byrne
‘Gloucester old spot pig is used in this delicious specimen, found among the store’s many cakes and sweet snacks. Rather than a runny yolk, it harbours a heart of firmer yellow fire. The sum of its parts all executed neatly.’ Various locations including St Pancras International, NW1 2QP. £2.50.

5. Fortnum & Mason
‘There’s arguably no greater example of the Scotch egg in the world. It has a large, yellow yolk that adds a welcome creaminess against the scrumptious meaty wrapping. Sold chilled, it’s perfect for picnic hampers or heating up when you’re home.’ 181 Piccadilly, W1A 1ER. £2.75.

And don’t forget The Scotch Egg Challenge! Find out who won the annual national cook-off last year at scotcheggchallenge.org.

See more of David’s work at davidjconstable.com.

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