“These mini Scotch eggs are little mouthfuls of meaty, crispy heaven. Although it’s not hard, this recipe does have a few stages – but bloomin’ hell, it’s worth it. Bizarrely, it’s not much more effort to make 30 than it is to make 12. Once you are set up, you’re ready to go. Eat these while they are hot, crispy and still oozy in the middle, or if you want to go down the picnic route, just boil the eggs for an extra minute. ”
Put the kettle on to boil. Pick and very finely chop the rosemary and sage leaves.
Tear open the sausages and squeeze the meat on to a plate. Season with the paprika, the chopped herbs, a few gratings of nutmeg and a little sea salt and black pepper, then use a fork to mash it all up.
Beat the eggs in a bowl. Put the flour and breadcrumbs into 2 separate bowls, so you have 3 bowls in total.
Carefully put the quail’s eggs into a small pan. Once the kettle boils, pour in the boiling water straight away and cook for 2 minutes, no longer. Move the pan to the sink and run cold water over the eggs for 2 to 3 minutes. Tap, roll and – ever so gently – peel the shells off them. Do it under running water if it helps. You’ll get quicker at peeling them as you go.
Take a marble-sized piece of sausage meat and flatten it out in the palm of your clean hand until it’s about 6cm in diameter. Pop an egg into the middle, then carefully shape and mould the sausage meat up around the egg with your floured hands. You need to get into the routine of pulling up the sides, gently squeezing, moulding, patting and very gently squashing the meat around the egg.
Repeat with all 12 eggs, then coat them well with flour. Transfer them to the bowl of beaten egg and coat well, then roll them in the breadcrumbs. They’ll be more robust to hold now, so pat and hug them into shape. When they’re all done, put them into a container and pop them into the fridge until needed.
When you’re ready to cook, put a deep casserole-type pan on a medium-high heat and fill it about 8cm deep with vegetable oil. Make sure you never fill a pan more than halfway up. Add a piece of potato to help you gauge the temperature – it’s ready once the potato turns golden and floats (or when the oil reaches 180°C on a thermometer).
Carefully lower one wee Scotch egg into the pan. After about 4 minutes it should be golden and perfectly cooked through, so take it out of the pan and cut it in half to see if you should have cooked it for less or more time – once you know where you stand, you can cook the rest, in batches of 6 or less.
Transfer the cooked Scotch eggs to a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain, and serve scattered with a pinch of salt, alongside a pot of English mustard and a cold beer.