Scotch Eggs

The popular snack Scotch Egg has been much abused by the food industry if the supermarket's offerings are anything to go by - even worse those mini Scotch Eggs served as a buffet food, nestling amongst the cheap sausage rolls and factory made 'filo' samosas. Yuk! A pity as all of these can be superb when made with good produce and care.

So why Scotch? I've no idea because the original is claimed to have been made by high class London retailer Fortnum and Mason where they are still sold - for £2.75 each!

Scotch eggsNot the best photo in the world - but these were two days old by the time I remembered to take a photo!

These eggs are simplicity itself. The only essential is good quality ingredients. So let's start with some free-range eggs; not those pseudo-free-range things from the supermarket, real ones from a local farm - the ones that don't even have to have the lion marked on them. Put them into a pan of cold water, bring to the boil, and boil for 20 seconds. Turn off the heat and leave for 17 minutes. Place in cold water until cooled, and peel. This method avoids the grey ring that sometimes forms around the yolk.

For each egg use about 125g of The Thurlaston Sausage, and mix a little chopped parsley into the meat. Roll the eggs in flour and dust off any excess. Flatten a piece of sausagemeat on the palm of your hand, put the egg in the middle, and wrap the egg in the sausage-meat - It's easy with a bit of practice. Dust the egg/sausage in flour, patting off any excess, then dip in egg-wash and finally good breadcrumbs, preferably made from a home-made loaf.

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The Monster Bresaola

Sometimes curing boils down to 'flying by the seat of your pants'!

Let me explain: it all started a week last Tuesday when we went to get some meat from Joseph Morris's at South Kilworth. I described to Pauline the size of the piece of topside I wanted and I certainly got what I asked for, all 5.77 kilo's of it!

After cutting the topside...and this picture is it after 2 kg was cut off for a roast!

I made a boo-boo trimming it in that I have cut off some of the solid muscle but left a separate muscle piece attached, you can see this nearest the camera...Doh!

I was worried about dry curing this thickness of beef; had it have been pork, no worries, but my experience of beef is that cure doesn't penetrate it nearly as easily as pork. My compromise has been to inject some of the cure as brine to get it to the middle of the meat. I have then applied the herbs and spices along with the balance of the curing salts, sugar, salt etc as a dry cure. Not ideal as the idea is to dry the meat rather than make it wetter, but never mind.

On the subject of Joseph Morris's, contrary to popular belief local butchers can be a lot cheaper than the supermarket as I commented in my previous post.

I've used the same recipe as before but reduced the levels of the spices and herbs with the aim of letting the flavour of the meat shine through more. I'll probably be in trouble for doing this as Pauline and the kids loved the last one I made so hold off with the exact recipe until I know how it all works out!

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Chorizo Version 2

ChorizoMy second attempt at chorizo has certainly turned out better than the first, despite the crisis when the casings proved to be too small. My nephew Mickey reckons they're just like ASDA's; I'm not sure whether that's a compliment or not! My own opinion is that they're too hot and don't have enough paprika or smokiness. Next time I'll increase the paprika, reduce the chilli/cayenne or leave it out altogether and increase the hot paprika. I'll also probably give them a few hours in the cold smoker.

The ingredients were:

Pork 1500gm
Fresh Garlic 15gm
Black Pepper 3gm
Smoked Hot Paprika 18gm
Smoked Sweet Paprika 4gm
Chilli Powder 6gm
Oregano 4gm
Dextrose 6gm
Cure #2 - 4gm
Starter Culture 2gm

Powdered dextrose is sold in many chemists as powdered glucose.

The method was:

The meat was ground with an 8mm mincer plate. The starter culture was mixed with a little blood hot water to activate it and added with all the other ingredients to the ground meat, and mixed well. The mixture was put into 60mm collagen casings and fermented at 22 -24°C with a 90% Relative Humidity (RH) for 2 days. They were then dried at 12 - 15°C with a relative humidity around 75 - 80% until they had lost 37% of their starting weight.

There's a slight hardening around the outside edge due, I think, to the air circulation fan in the fridge being too powerful; it's since been replaced with a smaller 40mm computer case fan, set to come on only when the fridge is cooling.

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Plum Chutney

This recipe is based on a peach chutney recipe by Dave Hesmondhaigh of The Cridford Inn, Trusham, printed in the BBC Good Food magazine. It's not as good as the peach one which is one of my favourite chutneys and uses tinned peaches - no fruit to stone! However, it's pleasant enough and useful to use up a glut of plums.


3 lb of plums, stoned in quarters
4 onions, chopped
8 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teasp finely grated fresh root ginger
1 lb 3 oz demerara sugar
12 oz white sugar
1½ pt wine vinegar
2 tablespoons coriander seeds, lightly crushed
8 oz of sultanas


Put all the ingredients into a large pan and gently bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Boil until thick and then bottle in sterilised jars.

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Coppa - Drying

The coppa dryingIt's now 23 days into making air-dried Coppa. Yesterday I took the meat out of it's cure, washed and dried it, and left it to dry in the fridge for about 6 hours before stuffing it into a collagen salami casing.

It sounds easy but until you've tried it you'll never understand how hard it is; something akin to getting an over-large body into a pair of tight jeans!

Whether this should be called a Coppa is somewhat debatable. Granted the term refers to any pork collar joint and also an air-dried meat made from it, but as far as I'm aware, the normal spicing doesn't include the large amount of paprika and cayenne that I included. What possessed me to add these I don't know. They are more typical of the Spanish Lomo than this Italian meat treat. Maybe it should be called "Coppa à la mode Lomo"

It's now hanging in my drying fridge at about 13°C with a humidity of 70 - 80% where it'll stay until it's lost about 40% of its weight. I'll wait to see whether it's any good before publishing the recipe!

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Drying Fridge Update

Chorizo drying in the fridgeIn May I wrote about my fridge set-up for air drying meat. It's now been fine-tuned through experience and seems to be working OK at present.

There's no doubt that if you can find somewhere that has the temperature and humidity conditions needed, it's far easier than trying to artificially create them; a cellar or pantry in an older house should be ideal, particularly if the summer months are avoided. "Summer", I hear you say, what bloomin' summer?

That said, the first time I used my new set-up the weather was scorching hot and humid with it. The fan moving air from outside the fridge to the inside just resulted in the fridge working overtime to keep cool, and the already humid air increased in relative humidity as it cooled - not what I wanted at all Doh! The fan has been moved and the vent covered; it now just circulates air in the fridge, and then only when the fridge motor is actually running as it's connected to the fridge's temperature controller. It's quite a large computer fan though and I'm going to replace it with a smaller less powerful one in due course as whilst you need air-flow you don't want a gale!

The hygrostat now operates a dehumidifier in the room the fridge is in to lower humidity when required instead of operating the fan. The mini-fogger which was used to increase humidity when required, has been replaced with a humidifier which works far better and is less messy.

I also find that a tray of salt in the fridge keeps the humidity nicely balanced - it's changed daily (when I remember).

The system is still better at increasing humidity than reducing it but I think it's working as well as I should expect for such a Heath Robinson arrangement! Short of digging a cellar, I guess it's the best I'll get; certainly everyone's enjoyed the meat I've dried so far, and it's nice to be doing it safely.

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