Monday, 26 March 2012

Scotch Eggs

I'm an enormous fan of traditional English working man's grub. Pies, pasties, sausage rolls and of course, big fat scotch eggs. For years they've been my go-to snack whenever I'm somewhere between hungry and peckish; a true fist of a meal that you can usually pick up for a quid. And so, after years of marvelling at the layers of protein-y goodness, I decided to try my hand at making my own. As it turns out they were actually pretty simple to make, and fist-pumpingly-awesome to eat. Who at all the pies? I ate all the pies
Mix about 300g of good quality sausage meat with a teaspoon each of sage and cayenne and season with salt and pepper. When I was searching for some recipe ideas I came across the following desperate query. It might sound a bit harsh, but if this is you, we can't be friends.
Please don't buy sausage meat from Iceland. Abroad, interesting = good. In the freezer at Iceland, interesting = not so good.
For the perfect scotch egg, stick the eggs in salted cold water, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 9 minutes exactly. Unless you live way above sea level, in which case I can't help you. Peel under cold water and try not to think about that scene in Cool Hand Luke.
Sploodge (technical term) out about a quarter of your sausage meat onto some cling film. Roll your eggs in seasoned flour and stick on top. Use the cling film to wrap the meat around the egg or, like me, give up and get messy. Make sure its nice and flush and completely seals off the egg. Try to work quickly here, because as the meat gets warmer in your hands it can turn into a sticky, gloopy catastrophe.
Once you've done four nice ones (or three nice ones and one stick, gloopy catastrophe - not pictured), stick them in the fridge to firm up a bit. Set yourself up a little assembly line with a beaten egg in one dish, and some breadcrumbs in another. 
Egg them, breadcrumb them, stick them on a plate. Heat some oil in a deep pan for frying. I love deep-fat-frying, and am still fascinated by it. I was always the kid who would wander into a chip shop at ten minutes to eleven and ask them to batter a Mars Bar for me. If you haven't tried it, you are seriously missing out. The oil is hot enough when a crumb will sizzle and float to the top.
Fry them off one at a time or in small batches if you have a big enough pan. 8-10 minutes should be perfect to cook through the sausage and leave that nice golden colour on the breadcrumbs.
Make yourself a nice sandwich, throw a couple pickled onions on a plate, add one of these guys to the mix and you're in working man's heaven. Real, honest food. Bliss.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Crispy Pretzel Chicken

Last week I was lucky enough to spend a week doing some work experience at BBC Good Food in London. For five amazing days I milled about the office doing a bit of writing, a lot of eating, and generally getting a really solid insight into the world of food journalism. I also found my dream job. No longer will I daydream about becoming a world-famous rockstar or athlete, I am now focussed on becoming a professional recipe-tester. Incredible. So in homage to my new friends in White City, I tried a recipe from their most recent issue. And yes, it is most certainly good food.
Everyone loves fried chicken, and everyone loves smashing things with a rolling pin. This recipe involves both. Leftover from when I had friends over a week ago, I had a sandwich bag full of about 100g of a couple different kinds of pretzels and a few tortilla chips - grab a rolling pin or wine bottle and bash them these until you have a nice bag of crumbs.
If you enjoy bashing pretzels, you're gonna love flattening yourself some chicken breasts. Do it between some cling film of baking parchment to avoid little chunks of salmonella-y goodness flying around your kitchen.
Preheat the oven to 200C and get a nice little chicken station going here. First rub your flattened breasts in seasoned flour, then in an egg wash, then roll in your pretzel crumbs. This is a horrifically messy process, but the reward is there..and if you impress enough with the chicken then you might even get out of doing the dishes. Bang them on a foil-lined baking tray, pour a bit of olive oil on top and stick them in the oven for about 35 minutes, until they're crisp, golden and delicious.
I am a big fan of a KFC, but these fellas knock the colonel's fat ass out. The dressing here is key. 100ml of wholegrain mustard, 4 tablespoons of golden syrup, one teaspoon of white wine vinegar. Pour it all over, serve with a healthy dollop of mash and some greens. Easy. Delicious.

The editor of Good Food Magazine gave me and my blog a Twitter shout-out. Is it weird that this is one of the coolest things that's ever happened to me?