I have not had a Scotch egg in the longest time! Living in Scotland, they were readily available from a range of sources, some better than others. Hubby virtually lived off the cheap supermarket ones for a while for his breakfast on his way to work. I always preferred the nice ones from the butcher's counter, or the artisanal ones from this little shop in the Stockbridge part of Edinburgh. Since leaving the UK five years ago, I think I got one once when we went back to visit friends, but otherwise, it's been a Scotch eggless life for me ever since. It simply never occurred to me to make them.
And then when we were up in the mountains at my parent's house over Easter, their neighbour, who raises quails, gave us two dozen quail eggs. Little Bit positively devours them, but we still went home with a bunch. I've never cooked with quails eggs, but find them creamier than hen's eggs without being too rich. They have a very pleasant, mild taste. Rather than doing fried eggs for Little Bit every day though, it occurred to me to use them in Scotch eggs, and I wasn't disappointed. I went looking for spicing inspiration in Food DIY by Tim Hayward, which I discovered was a good choice. I adapted the recipe to my own kitchen and quail's egg needs (and a couple of inattention mistakes), and served them up on a bed of salad with home made mayo dressing. It was beautiful!
I also experimented with using baking soda on meat again as I did for the Cottage Pie. Based on what I have read, the chemical reaction causes the muscle fibres to jellify , trapping moisture without loosing integrity. This makes (supposedly, I am still testing this for myself) for juicier meat that browns nicely. From the description, it sounds like a similar chemical reaction to that which occurs after salting, but without adding the extra salt to your diet.
9 Quail eggs
300 g (ish) ground pork
1/2 tsp (ish) allspice
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 c breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c rapeseed oil for frying
1) Boil the quail's eggs for 2 and a half minutes then drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Leave to cool thoroughly then peel them very carefully.
2) Mix the pork with the baking soda and set aside for about 20 minutes (longer might be better but that is the time I had), while you peel your eggs.
3) Mix allspice, thyme, salt and pepper into the pork. Add 1 egg and mix well. Divide into 9 evenly sized-balls.
4) Beat the other 2 eggs and place in a bowl. Place breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl beside it. Taking a ball of pork mixture, flatten it into a circle with a diameter of about 10cm. Place a quail egg in the centre and fold the meat around the egg and pinch it shut.
5) Roll the ball in egg and then in breadcrumbs, ensuring an even coverage and set aside. Repeat 8 more times. Chill the balls in the fridge about 30 min.
6) Bring oil up to heat in a frying pan until it is shimmering actively. Shallow fry each of the balls for about 3 minutes and then transfer to a baking try and bake at 180°C for about 10 minutes. (the goal is for the outside to be lovely and golden brown and crispy, the pork to be thoroughly cooked, and the egg yolk to still be soft.)
Serve these up however you like. I opted for a salad of spinach, Chinese cabbage, radish, carrot, cucumber. I then mixed some home made mayo with some extra lemon juice to thin it and drizzled it over the Scotch eggs. It was delightful and I will certainly be making these again soon, and maybe playing around with spicing a little. I am also tempted to try them with some cheese mixed into the pork, or maybe as an inside layer surrounding the egg... The baking soda trick seems to have worked as the meat was juicy yet cooked and firm, so more trials with that to follow. Or maybe next time I salt the meat first instead to compare.
If you want to make these keto friendly or gluten free, simply replace the breadcrumbs with ground almond!