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The Opera Tavern's Italian-style Scotch Eggs

The Opera Tavern's Italian-style Scotch Eggs

One of the most popular dishes at Opera Tavern from the excellent new Salt Yard cookbook which, interestingly, is self-published. And includes drink recommendations. Hurray!

Co-author Ben Tish writes: "When we set up Opera Tavern, we wanted to give a nod to its public house heritage and so added a few pub classics to the menu, each with our own distinctive Spanish-Italian twist. These Scotch eggs are given some Italian flavours with the use of pork and veal mince, mixed with marjoram and lemon zest. Cook the eggs just before they’re to be eaten, so they’re hot and crisp on the outside and the yolk is warm and runny in the middle. They’re delicious dipped in some homemade alioli* and washed down with a glass of cold beer.

Italian-style Scotch Egg

Makes 6 scotch eggs

6 medium free-range or organic eggs

180g minced British rose veal

180g minced pork

zest of 1 lemon

2 teaspoons marjoram leaves

plain flour, sifted, enough for coating the eggs

5 eggs, beaten

panko-style breadcrumbs, enough for coating the eggs

2 litres vegetable oil for deep-frying

alioli* (optional), for dipping the eggs in

sea salt and black pepper

Bring a pan of water to a rolling boil, carefully lower the eggs into the water and cook for about 6½ minutes. Remove and place in a bowl of iced water. Leave for 5 minutes or so until completely cool. Very carefully peel the eggs.

Place both the minces and the lemon zest in a mixing bowl. Roughly chop half the marjoram and add to the mince mixture. Season lightly and mix thoroughly. You can test a small piece of the mince by frying it in olive oil until cooked through: taste to see if you’re happy with the flavouring and seasoning, and adjust as necessary.

Divide the mince mixture into 6 equal pieces. Flatten one piece on a lightly oiled chopping board to make an oval shape about 3mm thick. Sit an egg on top and wrap the mince around it, ensuring there are no air gaps between the egg and the mince and that the mince is distributed evenly. Be very gentle so you don’t break the egg, which is still runny inside. Repeat with the other eggs.

Place the flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs in 3 separate bowls. Roll each egg first in the flour, then in the egg and finally in the breadcrumbs. Make sure you coat the egg evenly at each stage. When all the eggs are breaded, coat them once more in the egg and again in the breadcrumbs (but not the flour this time). This second coating is the secret behind a wonderfully crispy crust. If the breadcrumbs become too gooey and clumped together, use another bowl of fresh breadcrumbs. It’s important that you have a nice, light coating.

Heat the oil in a tall-sided pan until a piece of bread fizzles and browns when dropped in, or heat the oil in a deep fat fryer to 170˚C.

Lower 3 eggs into the oil and fry until golden brown, which should take about 4 minutes. Turn the eggs while they fry to colour evenly on all sides. Transfer the eggs to some kitchen paper and repeat the procedure with the remaining eggs. When done, transfer to a baking tray and place in a warm oven for 3 minutes to further heat through.

Slice the eggs in half lengthwise and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Serve strewn with fresh marjoram leaves and the alioli on the side, if you like.

*alioli is a Spanish-style garlic mayonnaise.

Salt Yard Food & Wine from Spain and Italy by Sanja Morris, Ben Tish and Simon Mullins is published at £30 by Piquillo Publishing. Photographs © Jason Lowe

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