Vegetarian Scotch Quail Eggs
I adore regular Scotch eggs, and wanted my vegetarian family to enjoy the crunchy, eggy goodness of them too. So I decided to come up with an alternative that didn’t involve vegetarian mince (just - no) and instead made this version using lovely cannellini beans crushed with sage, onion & porcini mushrooms.
Fry a finely chopped onion until soft and translucent, then add a good shake of dried sage, salt and pepper. Blitz four dried porcini mushrooms into powder in a spice or coffee grinder, and add to the softened onions with a splash of water. Let the water reduce away to nothing, then cook for a further 3-4 minutes with a handful of fresh breadcrumbs. In a large bowl, mash the onion mix through a tin of drained, rinsed cannelini beans, and season again to taste. You want the cannelini beans very well mashed for this- by the end, it should be malleable like very stiff mashed potato. Set aside.
Boil your quail eggs from fridge cold in fiercely boiling water for 2 minutes and 15 seconds. Remove immediately to a bowl of cold water and then peel them carefully. (I enlisted the help of my sister and her boyfriend for this, and we had a zero casualty rate, which is something of a record). Divide your bean mixture into 12, squash out each section of mix flat in the palm of your hand, then carefully pop a quail egg in the middle and pat the mixture down all around it. Pop the wrapped eggs in the fridge to firm up for 20 mins. Before deep frying, dip each egg in seasoned flour, then in beaten egg, then in breadcrumbs. You can repeat the beaten egg and breadcrumb stage if you wish, as this gives you an extra crisp coating. If you’re not confident at deep frying, get someone to help you who is and knows how to do it safely, otherwise, get a pan filled no more than half full with vegetable oil, and heat it until it’s hot enough that a cube of bread sizzles and turns golden when dropped in. Very carefully lower each breadcrumbed egg in, doing about 4 at a time. They’re ready when the crumbs are golden brown, and they’ve stopped sizzling as fiercely in the oil as when they went in. Carefully lift them out with a slotted spoon onto a kitchen roll lined plate, and repeat till you’ve fried the lot. Cut them open and take a moment to admire the lovely runny yellow yolks, then serve hot or cold as a canape.