Not like the crappy scotch eggs you get in the supermarket. They’re crunchy, with an earthy black pudding flavour, and then the egg is all gooey soft in the middle (if you get lucky like I did!)
I enjoyed making these (this is my deep fat fryer’s maiden voyage), but it would work fine deep frying them in a pan too.
Gather this lot:
Eggs. I used Araucana eggs from the local market, but any eggs are fine. You can use hen, quail, whatever. These Araucana eggs are a little smaller than hen’s eggs.
Good quality, fresh black pudding
Some sausage meat. Roughly the same amount as you have black pudding
Flour, beaten eggs, and breadcrumbs to coat them with (I used panko breadcrumbs)
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Chop the black pudding into cubes
Finely chop the thyme.
Split the sausages and get the meat out, then mix with the black pudding and the thyme and put it in the food processor. Pulse it until smooth(ish).
Simmer the eggs for a while. I did mine for about 6 minutes, but this depends on the size of the eggs. You don’t want them totally hard boiled.
Take the eggs out of the pan and put into a bowl with water and ice cubes in, to stop them cooking, and to make them easier to peel
Once cool enough, peel the eggs, trying not to swear too loudly when they turn out like asteroids. Seriously, I have no idea how to peel eggs reliably. I have the cold tap running slowly and start at the blunt end of the egg where the air pocket is, trying to peel the membrane rather than the shell. It’s hit and miss. But it doesn’t matter too much here as they’ll be coated in the BP / sausagemeat mixture anyway.
Take some of the mixture and wrap it around each of the asteroids eggs, slightly wet hands can help to stop it sticking to you too much.
On separate plates, put seasoned flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs
Take the sausage meat coated eggs and roll them in the flour, then the egg, and then the breadcrumbs
Deep fry them for about 5 minutes, until they’re golden brown and crispy. I had the oil at 190.
If you’re deep frying them in a saucepan, don’t fill it more than halfway – and don’t take your eyes off them for a second!
That’s all there is to it. Eat them while they’re still warm, hopefully the egg is nice and soft in the middle too.
You’ll wonder why on Earth you ever bought the ones from the shop.
I finally got around to making the crunchy ears starter. I saved the ears from the last head I bought (for guanciale / brawn). The Nasturtiums are pretty much finished now so I wanted to do this whilst they were still in flower.
2 fresh pig’s ears (ask your butcher or farmer – they’ll like you even more for asking)
A small white onion, a carrot and a celery rib, diced
Half a sliced leek
A bouquet garni (Parsley stalks, bay leaf and sprigs of thyme wrapped in the outer leaf of a leek and tied with string)
About 10 black peppercorns
For deep frying the ear slices:
Panko breadcrumbs (you could use matzo meal instead, or just normal breadcrumbs)
A tablespoon of gherkins or cornichons, finely chopped (bonus points for pickling your own)
A hard boiled egg
About 100g of mayonnaise (bonus points if you make it yourself)
Finely chopped fresh parsley
The juice of half a lemon
First of all get the ears on the go. Give them a good scrub. Shave them, or use a blowtorch to get rid of any hairs.
Pop them into a pan with some cold water. Bring to a simmer for a couple of minutes then take them out and discard the water.
Refill the pan with cold water and add the ears and the other ingredients.
Bring to a simmer (don’t boil them), and simmer gently for a couple of hours, until a knife or skewer passes through them easily.
Whilst the ears are simmering away, make the tartare sauce:
Put the finely chopped egg, gherkins, capers and parsley into a bowl and add the mayo and the lemon juice. Mix well, season to taste, and then add most of the nasturtium flowers and leaves. Save a few flowers and leaves to for garnishing.
Once the ears are tender, put them between sheets of greaseproof paper, weigh them down with a couple of books or something else flat and heavy, and leave them to cool.
Fry the ears up:
Once they’re cool and flat, slice the ears into long, thin strips
Dust with flour, then beaten egg, and then cover with the Panko breadcrumbs and deep fry until crispy
Serve your crispy ear-based crackling snacks to your unsuspecting guests, or sit and munch them all yourself 🙂
Verdict: Not at all bad. The panko breadcrumbs are super crunchy and not greasy (make sure the oil’s hot enough!) The cartilage is crunchy when you bite into them. However, the real winner of this plate is the nasturium caper sauce, which is bloody delicious and offsets the ears brilliantly. Next time I’ll get more heavy handed with the seasoning of the flour.
This is a cold smoked, Mexican style fresh chorizo sausage.
I made these to test out my original curing chamber setup (with the vivarium controller), as they only need to hang for about 5-7 days. Plus I wanted to use my newly built cold smoker 🙂
Shopping list (adjust the amounts according to how much meat / fat you have. The ratios are important):
1.5kg pork shoulder, or a mixture of shoulder and belly, diced into 1″ cubes
650g back fat diced into smaller cubes than the meat (if you can’t get back fat, use a greater ratio of belly)
40g Sea salt
6g of Cure #1 (pink salt)
25g dried chilli powder
3g white pepper
75g dehydrated skimmed milk
15g dried cumin
Thinly sliced spring onions – 120g or so, green part included
About 60ml cold water, and some ice cubes
Natural hog casings
Cold smoker / dust / pellets
Get your sausage on:
Important: Make sure you’ve got your grinder blades in the freezer for a few hours to help keep everything super cold and stop the fat smearing when grinding, and get your hog casings in some warmish water so they’re ready to be stuffed. If you have room, put the meat and fat into the freezer for a while too.
Put ice cubes in one mixing bowl and then put the other bowl into it
Mix the diced meat, salts, herbs and milk powder together and grind them through the coarse plate on your grinder, into the iced bowl
Grind the fat through the fine plate into the iced bowl with the meat in
Mix this all together with the spring onions and a splash of cold water, it’ll go sticky when you mix it – you want this
Take a small piece and fry it off in a pan to check the seasoning. Adjust if necessary. Make sure that you put the rest of the mixture in the fridge while you do this
Rinse the casings out thoroughly. Don’t let go else they’ll disappear down the plug hole!
Stuff your sausages into the casings, and twist into links. Whatever length you like
Put them uncovered in the fridge overnight to build up a pellicle so that they take the smoke better
Stick them on your cold smoker for a few hours (I think mine had about 5 hours), they should have some nice colouration by then
Then hang them in the fridge (curing chamber, etc) for about 5 days. Ideally they want about 70% humidity. Mine were in there for a week and the humidity was all over the place, but they turned out fine. I was testing out the viability of the reptile vivarium controller as a curing chamber controller at the time, but I decided that more control was needed, hence sausageBot was born.
You can then freeze them and they’ll keep for ages, or keep them in the fridge for a couple of weeks max.
For bonus points, vacuum seal them – they take up less room and you won’t get any freezer burn. Plus it’s good fun.
Unsurprisingly you can use them like any fresh chorizo – they’re particularly good with chicken, in risotto, or just fried up as a tapas dish.
UPDATE: I had some of these on the grill the other day – they were pretty spicy!
It’s been a bumper year for the Rainier cherries. I picked 6Kg from the tree in the back garden in about half an hour (strictly speaking it’s my neighbour’s tree and I just picked the branches overhanging my garden).
So I’m left with a conundrum: What the hell am I going to do with them all? I pickled some – but that only used 400g. There’s no room in the freezer because it’s full of meats and stock.
No choice but to preserve them. I’d got a load of jam and pickle jars I’d saved up since last year, so no issue there.
There are loads of recipes online for canning / preserving fruit. I found this one on Simple Bites
I used triple the amount of cherries but you can adjust this accordingly:
~300g sugar (adjust depending on how sweet your cherries are. These are really sweet)
Vanilla pods (I cut them up into quarters, one per jar)
Sanitised jars with “poppy” seal type lids – I put mine through the dishwasher, they were old gherkin jars from work.
Cherry stoner / pitter
While the jars are in the dishwasher, wash, de-stem and stone your cherries. You could do it manually with a knife, if you’re a masochist. It takes quite a while even with a stoner, and I couldn’t face doing any more after about 2Kg. So I kept some whole to fill some other jars.
Put the stoned cherries in water with a splash of lemon juice to stop them browning.
Dry your clean jars off in a low oven and keep them warm.
Then make the syrup – put the sugar and water in a pan and bring to a simmer, so that the sugar’s totally dissolved. Keep it on a low heat for now.
Put a huge pan of water on to boil. I can only get 3 jars at a time in mine. If you have a trivet to put in the bottom of the pan to keep the jars from the direct heat, then so much the better.
Put a piece of vanilla pod into each warm jar, and then cram as many cherries as you can in. Leave a little room at the top so you can cover them totally with the syrup.
Cover the cherries with the hot syrup, and give them a bang on the work surface to loosen any trapped air. Make sure the thread on the jars is super clean (use a clean towel with a little boiling water on if there’s bits of cherry stuck to them), and then hand-tighten the lids.
Transfer them to the huge pan of water you’ve got simmering. The water should cover the jars completely. Simmer them for about 18 minutes. You should see bubbles coming from the jars during this time.
After 18 or so minutes, lift them out of the hot water and put the next batch in. A jar-lifter is really very handy here.
Let the jars cool down, and listen out for the “pops” from the lids as they seal. Any which don’t pop inwards you can keep in the fridge, the others are shelf safe.
Here are my jars full of cherries. They seem to have lost some colour which is a shame, but I was pleased when they all went pop!
Had another good sausagebot curing chamber controller session tonight with Spandex. We’ve got the enclosure almost completed now and it’s starting to come together really well. Still need to work out exactly how to fix the lid on properly, but the tabbed corner pieces are all glued together and the base and sides too. I think the next job is to start wiring all the innards up and testing it before we finalise the enclosure structure as we know it’ll look sweet once complete.
Some pics of tonight’s progress…
Next time we’ll get all the innards fixed into place then onto testing and software development 🙂 It occurred to us tonight that we’ve spent an inordinate amount of time designing and building the enclosure but it’s time well spent I think. The really exciting stuff is up next!
Nasturtiums are great plants. Easy to grow, good looking, and most importantly – you can eat them – flowers, seed pods, the whole shebang.
The flowers look great on a salad, they’ve got a really peppery taste – but I often just eat them straight off the plant (after a quick bug check!)
Pick the seed pods when they’re young (before they start to turn a reddish colour)
Give them a good rinse and split the larger pod trios into separate pods. Make a brine with 50g sea salt and a litre of water and soak them overnight, then wash them well and dry them.
Put them in a sterilised jar with a couple of bay leaves, cover them in white wine or cider vinegar, and that’s it. You could add whatever you like to the jar – rosemary, peppercorns or thyme. It’s up to you.
Leave them somewhere cool for a couple of weeks or so before using. They will last almost indefinitely, and they’re great in potato salad, or with fish dishes.
Pastrami is just brined and smoked corned beef. It just takes a few days from start to finish.
The version is from Ruhlman and Polcyn’s Charcuterie book.
Here’s what you need.
A good quality piece of brisket (or beef plate if you can get that) – about 2kg
For the brine:
350g sea salt – or other salt without caking agents.
90g Muscovado sugar – or other soft brown sugar
42g curing salt #1 (pink salt)
8 grams pickling spice – you made a load up last time I hope? Just grab the jar off the shelf. If you didn’t – mix black peppercorns, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, allspice berries, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, cloves, ground ginger, blade mace and chilli flakes in a pestle and mortar. Or just buy some ready made pickling spice.
5 cloves of garlic, crushed.
Prepare the meat for brining:
Trim off all the surface fat from the meat. It’s worth taking your time over this. The final product can be a bit chewy in places if you leave it on. I didn’t take enough off the one in the main picture, so I’ve learned a lesson.
Then make the brine.
Put all the brine ingredients into a large saucepan.
Bring the brine to a boil, and then simmer until everything’s dissolved.
Let it cool, then put it in the fridge to chill.
Once it’s chilled, put your brisket into the brine. You can use another container if you can’t get the pot in the fridge. Weigh it down with something (a plate?) so that the meat is totally submerged. This is important.
Refrigerate it for 3 days
Take the beef out of the brine and throw the brine away. It’s done its job.
Dry the beef with kitchen paper. Make sure it doesn’t stick to the meat.
Blitz equal amounts of coriander seeds and black pepper in a coffee or herb grinder, or use a pestle and mortar if you want to make a mess and waste an hour. You need enough to cover the meat evenly.
Coat the meat with the coriander and pepper mixture
Now you’ve got options:
If you have a hot smoker, smoke that badboy until it’s 150F in the middle, as slowly as you can so it gets loads of smoke on it.
or if you don’t (I don’t, yet) you can cold smoke it, and then finish it off in the oven until it hits 150F in the middle. I tend to put it on a rack above an inch of water when it’s in the oven.
Once it’s cooked, wait until it cools, then slice it thinly.
Serve it on good bread, with mustard, sauerkraut and gherkins. Or just stand there and keep shoving slices into your face. It’s bloody amazing.
You can’t really see the base on the picture above due to the white table, but you get the idea. We laser cut all the enclosure parts last night – apart from the lid. We accidentally used the wrong piece of perspex for the base, which meant we didn’t have enough left to make it! Oh well.
Here’s what the corner blocks look like when they come off the cutter. The pegs cut out from the middle are used to fix them together.
The next job is to glue the corner blocks together, then fix all the electronic components and the relays to the base, and build the “walls” – i.e. everything apart from the lid. Once that’s done we can wire it all up and start running some tests and writing the software.
This thing really is complete overkill for curing a few sausages, but it’s gonna be bloody great when it’s finished 🙂
There are myriad versions of brawn, or head cheese, fromage de tête, whatever you want to call it. This version is from Fergus Henderson’s “Nose to tail”. It’s basically a jellied meat terrine.
I’ve been unable to find anyone willing (or able) to supply me with a pig’s head, until last week. I’ve asked in various butchers and each time I’ve been given a blank look. I guess no one makes this anymore. I found that the organic farm shop a few miles from home can supply heads, trotters and back fat! Huzzah! Back fat is almost as tricky to get hold of as a pig’s head, because no one likes fat these days apparently, the fools.
So to make this Brawn recipe I needed:
A pig’s head
2 pig’s trotters
2 celery ribs
Parsley, bay leaves, sprigs of thyme, rosemary, sage, plus about 2 tablespoons of cracked black peppercorns, all wrapped up and tied in muslin
Bunch of curly leafed parsley
A good slug of red wine vinegar
A VERY large stockpot
A couple of loaf tins or terrine moulds, plus some clingfilm
A packet of disposable razors
First of all you need to prep the head. Wash it all really well (don’t forget to clean the ears!) and give it a good shave with the disposable razors (you’ll need a few – I got through half a dozen) – doing that feels a bit odd to be quite honest. Give the trotters a good going over too – make sure you check between the toes!
You can imagine my girlfriend’s face when she wandered into the kitchen half asleep on Sunday morning to find me shaving a pig’s head with a bic razor 🙂
So, depending on how large the head is, and how large your pot is, you might need to saw it in half, or even into quarters in order to get it in there. Mine just fitted in the pot, albeit with the nose a little higher than I would have hoped for. If you’re sawing the head apart you’ll need a bone saw or a clean hacksaw with a new blade. Scoop out the brain and work out how you’re gonna cook it, if you are. Deep fried? On toast? Up to you. Mine came without the brain. I found out later that it was also missing the tongue, which was a real shame.
Some brawn recipes call for the head to be brined for 24 hours before cooking, but not this one, so I skipped the brining.
Once you’re happy with your shaved head, wash and peel the veg, then put everything apart from the sea salt into your huge stockpot, fill it with cold water, and bring it slowly up to a simmer.
Simmer very gently for about 3-4 hours, or until the meat is really soft and coming away from the head. Make sure it never fully boils!
Periodically scrape off any scum which floats to the top. I did this about 8 times during the simmer.
Then lift all the pig bits out of the broth (it’ll be falling apart by this stage – so be careful) and let it all cool down enough to be able to handle the meat.
Take all the meat off the head, shred it with your fingers and set aside. Pull the tongue out, peel the skin off it and dice it. Put this in with the other meat. If there’s any meat on the trotters pull that off, or simply discard them, they’ve done their job by now.
Mix the chopped parsely in with the diced and shredded meat.
Strain the stock into a clean pan through some muslin to get rid of all the bits, then cook this over a high heat until reduced by about half. Your house will smell very piggy by this point.
Get your loaf tins or terrine moulds ready – line them with clingfilm and arrange the meaty bits in them.
Check the seasoning of your reduced stock (It’s worthwhile seasoning heavily as this will be served cold, reducing the final flavour), then gently pour your stock over the meat and parsley, cover and pop into the fridge to set. It’s worth trying to get any remaining bubbles of air out while it’s still warm, you can bang it on the worksurface or or poke it with a spoon handle, etc to do this.
I didn’t get anywhere near the yield I was expecting but that’s because I took both jowls off for Guanciale, and because the tongue was missing!
Still, I only paid £6 for the head, trotters and about a kilo of back fat, so I can’t complain – according to the receipt the head was free, and it’s not every day you can say that you got free head 😛
Once it’s all properly set (overnight in the fridge is best), put a plate on top and invert it. Remove the clingfilm, cut a slice off and marvel at the porky wonder that is your brawn!
Slice a piece off, grab a home pickled gherkin or some cornichons from the jar, butter some some crunchy bread and potato salad and you’re set. And pour yourself a beer.
To be honest it tastes good but it needs really heavy seasoning – a lot more than I added – and it’s a bit too jelly-heavy, but it wobbles nicely 🙂 It needed about double the amount of meat, if I’d only kept one jowl back and the tongue there!
If you put some hard boiled eggs in it before it sets it would be like a jellied Gala pie. mmmm. Next time I’ll do that and make Fergus’ Crispy ear and sorrel salad to go with it.