These veggie scotch eggs are a recipe I developed for a wedding lunch I catered at work recently. The brief was a picnic lunch which showcased seasonal vegetables. I loved it, the bride & groom are adventurous people who love food, especially vegetables & were happy to give me a long leash when it came to creating the menu. I also got to spend several days in beautiful Edale in the Peak District.
I had not made scotch eggs before but knew I wanted something which tasted a bit like the meaty version. A wedding is a tricky thing to cater as there is always a broad range of guests & therefore tastes to satisfy. I knew that lots of the guests were meat eaters so wanted to include some flavours which would be familiar to them. I therefore kept it simple & took the flavours of a standard British sausage – sage & onion. These were easily the favourite dish on the picnic lunch with lots of people asking for seconds & the recipe. Making 60 of these was a labour of love but it was worth it.
Chickpeas make a great substitute for the meat as they have a substantial texture & bite. They also take on flavours really well & can be moulded, then breadcrumbed easily (a big factor when you have to make 60). The basic recipe is easy and you can play around with the flavours to your taste by adding different spices & herbs. The nigella seeds are not essential but do add an extra onion aroma.
Veggie Scotch Eggs Recipe
Ingredients (Serves 6):
8 free range eggs (add a few extra if you want to make sure they all work – sometimes there are breakages)
250g dried chickpeas
2 medium onions
2 sprigs rosemary
2 bay leaves
5-6 cloves garlic
1 tsp onion seeds (nigella)
1/4 tsp cayenne (or any hot chilli powder)
100g plain flour
oil for frying
Preparation: (hands on =1.5h – start day before)
- Cover the chickpeas with boiling water & soak overnight
- The next day drain the chickpeas & cover with water & bring to the boil for about 20 minutes. They need to be half cooked. Too mushy & the filling will be too wet but they do need to soften. Once cooked drain them & cool completely (spread them on a baking tray). If they have a couple of hours to dry out so much the better, water is the enemy of crispness so you don’t want it in the filling.
- Meanwhile boil 6 eggs (or more if you want a couple of spares in case of breakage) until just passed soft boil – we use this ingenious egg timer – it never fails
- Cool the eggs completely & peel them
- To make the filling, chop the onions into small cubes & begin to fry them gently in the butter with a pinch of salt & pepper, a sprig of rosemary, bay leaves & Thyme if you have it. The idea is to infuse the herbs but don’t let them start to break up. Take them out of the pan if this starts to happen.
- Once the onions are soft add the chopped garlic, onion seeds & finely chop the rosemary leaves from the other sprig. Add those & fry everything gently to release the flavours (2-3 minutes)
- Finally chop the sage & add that with the chilli powder & fry for a further 30 seconds.
- Add this mixture to the chickpeas & begin to mash everything together with plenty of salt & pepper. Taste the seasoning. If you cant taste the sage add more. The filling should be a strong taste as the egg & coating will take away from it in the final bite so over-season it a bit.
- Once the filling is cool check the consistency. Take a little piece & form it into a ball – it should have the texture of falaffel. When I made these ones the mixture was a little dry so I added about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to moisten it & make it more maleable.
- Now comes the fun part – assembling the scotch eggs. This works best with slightly damp hands. Take a big ball of filling & flatten it out between your hands. It should be about 1cm thick or a little less & a uniform thickness. Then place an egg on the filling & wrap the chickpeas around it. Mould & shape the filling around the egg making sure there are no gaps. Squeeze it a little but not too hard so you break the egg. This takes a little practice but you can always take the filling off & start again if its not working. If the mixture is too wet add some flour & if its too dry add oil.
- Chill the covered eggs for 1/2 hour in fridge
- Add a double breadcrumb coating so roll the chilled eggs in flour then whisked egg then breadcrumbs. Repeat the egg & breadcrumbs to get a really crunchy coating.
- Fry them in vegetable oil for about 4-5 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oil & rest on kitchen paper to soak up some of the oil.