I find it a bit of a travesty that eggs seem to get ignored on restaurant menus as there are countless great, contemporary dishes where eggs can be included as the main ingredient. At this time of year, look out for pheasant and guinea fowl eggs; or, if you can, seek out gulls’ eggs — they go down superbly with homemade celery salt. I’m not talking seagull eggs, rather those from the migratory black-headed gull, which are a bit of a luxury — one egg costs the same as a couple of dozen hens’ eggs.
Delicacies aside, I still consider eggs a treat, not to mention a bargain, even if the price has gone up a bit since the battery farming ban. And I firmly believe that we should give them a little more respect and do more than just poach, scramble and fry them. A tip, if you can’t stretch to gulls’: invest in duck eggs now and then — they’re richer, larger and not as expensive as you’d imagine.
Black Pudding Scotch Duck Eggs (above)
You’ve probably noticed that scotch eggs have taken off in a big way recently. I’ve been serving them in various forms in my restaurants for years as canapés, bar snacks and as a starter or part of a main course in a salad. Here, I’ve used black pudding mixed with some good quality sausage meat, but you could use haggis or even crumble in some cooking chorizo. Sadly, you’ll still find those dry, poorly made, over-cooked scotch eggs on the supermarket shelves, so I would always recommend making your own. They’re also great to take fishing or shooting in mini quail’s egg form.
175g good-quality Cumberland sausage meat
175g black pudding, chopped
4 duck eggs, boiled for 4–5 minutes, cooled in cold water and peeled
Flour, for dusting
1 duck egg, beaten
50–60g fresh white breadcrumbs
Vegetable or corn oil for deep-frying
1. Mix the sausage meat and black pudding together and divide into four balls. Flatten into patties, then wrap the meat around each egg evenly, moulding it with your hands. Have three shallow containers ready, one each for the flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs. First, put the eggs through the flour, shaking off any excess, then through the egg wash and last, the breadcrumbs. Reshape if necessary.
2. Preheat about 8cm of oil to 140–150ºC in a large, thick-bottomed saucepan or electric deep-fat fryer. Cook the eggs for 3–4 minutes, turning over until evenly coloured. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Serve hot, cold or at room temperature.
Brik à L'oeuf
This is one of my favourite breakfast dishes, but you have to be quick to get it folded and flipped over so that the egg inside the crisp pastry remains soft. A very simple and light Tunisian dish, it’s great in the morning or as a snack with a little harissa paste to give it a bit of a kick. You can use traditional warka pastry leaves, which are becoming slightly easier to get hold of on these shores, although filo works just as well.
2–3 tbsps olive oil
4 sheets of warka or filo pastry measuring about 25—30cm in diameter
4 Braddock white duck eggs or another egg of your choice, cracked into individual small pots
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Harissa paste, to serve
Heat some olive oil in a large, preferably non-stick, frying pan. Lay a sheet of pastry into the pan then quickly tip the egg into the centre, season and fold the pastry over into a triangle. Cook for a minute or so on each side, or until the pastry is crisp but the egg yolk is still soft. Carefully remove with a spatula and serve immediately, with or without the harissa paste.