A Cornish pasty doesn’t count, a slice of pizza is up for debate, however a Scotch egg, says one minister, is substantial sufficient to be thought of a sit-down meal. That’s in response to George Eustice, the atmosphere secretary, who has controversially declared the Scotch egg sufficient to save lots of a Tier 2 pub from closure underneath the brand new rules rolled out at the moment.
As a lifelong Scotch egg fanatic, I’ve to agree with Mr Eustice. When finished proper, they could be a superb factor. A gooey egg (this bit is non-negotiable), wrapped in well-seasoned sausage, dipped in breadcrumbs and deep fried till golden brown – what’s to not love? Combine some finely chopped herbs or a little bit of onion via the pork, and it’s virtually a balanced meal.
However nonetheless, I can perceive the controversy. This entire query arguably hinges on what stage of Scotch egg we’re speaking about, and the delicacy’s fame has been tarnished by some unlucky impostors.
Take your Marks and Spencer’s fundamental picnic providing – roughly the scale of a ping pong ball, encased in rubbery meat with that reassuringly generic pepper flavour. Until you intend to eat a whole punnet, a most important meal this doesn’t make. Both manner, even certainly one of these monstrosities is, to my thoughts, one too many.
Nevertheless, scale as much as a gastro pub quantity approaching the scale of a cricket ball, with a yolk that also oozes whenever you lower into it, and you may start to legitimately name it a starter, notably in case you place it on a “mattress of market leaves”, with a dollop of Colman’s.
That doesn’t imply an honest Scotch egg must be massively fancy – though I’d by no means knowingly flip down a kind of scrumptious choices you discover in delis and farmers markets lately, encased in smoky chorizo, gentle black pudding and even one thing like salt cod – however it does have to pack a little bit of a punch. The best Scotch eggs are so recent that the casing remains to be crisp, the meat gentle and the yolk runny sufficient to drip down your chin. If you happen to want a bib to put on it, it undoubtedly counts as table meals.
The case for the Scotch egg constituting a most important meal would possibly seem like difficult by its historical past. Fortnum and Mason have all the time claimed it to be their invention, conceived in 1738 as a travelling snack and obtainable in Piccadilly for the wealthy to buy chilly as a lightweight refreshment to take pleasure in on the best way to their nation estates. In the meantime, the recipe seems in a bit of Maria Rundell’s 1806 tome A New System of Home Cookery underneath “Candy dishes, preserves and sweetmeats”, alongside trifle, Welsh rarebit and poached eggs on toast.
Her directions for Scotch eggs advise the cook dinner to “fry [it] a ravishing yellow brown, and serve with a great gravy”, certainly the form of factor you’d solely take pleasure in whereas sitting at a table. Admittedly, on the time, gravy referred to any form of spiced sauce. However in case you haven’t dipped a lukewarm Scotch egg in a squadge of HP, you haven’t lived.
The true query, after all, is the place to attract the road. If a Scotch egg constitutes a meal, the place can we stand on these different mighty British staples: the sausage roll and the pork pie? The PM’s spokesman wouldn’t be drawn on specifics. “I’m clearly not going to get into the element of each doable meal. However we’ve been clear: bar snacks don’t depend.”
Purists might quibble, however I’m sticking with Mr Eustice on this one. And in any case, in my e book, the Scotch egg will all the time be the King of pub grub.