Scotch eggs, in their original form, are among my favorite guilty pleasures. For the uninitiated, a scotch egg consists of an egg enrobed in sausage meat, rolled in breadcrumbs, and deep-fried for good measure. It’s a fairly debaucherous snack to be sure, but oh so worth it for every greasy bite. But for the vegetarians in the crowd, the scotch egg is a no-fly zone. And I think that’s too bad because, to me, the sausage meat in a scotch egg is far from the main attraction. The mark of a good scotch egg, in my books, is a crisp exterior matched with a gloriously runny yolk. So, I nixed the sausage meat and replaced it with a homage to another British classic – mushy peas. And boom! These Vegetarian Scotch Eggs were born.
Let’s Talk Mushy Peas
The idea of using mushy peas in place of sausage meat came to me in an instant. And just as quickly, presented a multitude of problems. Sausage meat is a hearty edible building material. It benefits from binders such as eggs and breadcrumbs, which a traditional pot of mushy peas doesn’t have. So, early on I was left with the conundrum of how to bolster the structural integrity of a dish with “mushy” in the title, without losing the heart and flavor of the original. It turned out the answer was waiting for me on an entirely different shore.
Over a year ago, I posted a batch of Sweet Pea and Chorizo Croquettes. While I was developing that recipe, I delved deep into the wonderfully varied world of croquettes. It was during this research that I first encounter the Spanish croquette. A Spanish croquette consists of cheese and meat held together by an ultra-thick bechamel. A bechamel so thick that it can be molded into a log shape before being breaded and deep-fried. It seemed like the ultimate vehicle for my mushy peas.
Now, making an ultra-thick bechamel is no different than making a bechamel of any other consistency. The only difference is the amount of flour. You’re going to make a large, thick roux. And then, you’re going to leave the finished bechamel to really chill out in the fridge before attempting anything like enrobing eggs. The chilling time is a bit of a time suck to be sure, so start these Vegetarian Scotch Eggs a day ahead of whenever you plan to eat them.
Hard-Boiled v Soft Boiled
I’ve eaten scotch eggs made with hard-boiled eggs and I’ve eaten scotch eggs made with soft-boiled eggs. Both have their merits and I think it’s fair to say there is no right or wrong here, only preference. And my preference is soft boiled and boy, do I wish it wasn’t.
Soft boiled eggs are a pain in the ass to peel and their as delicate to handle as your first boyfriend’s ego. And that perfectly runny yolk you work so hard to achieve can be obliterated if you leave your Vegetarian Scotch Eggs in the oil for too long. But when you cut into a scotch egg and liquid sunshine oozes out, well, if you could bottle that feeling you’d put Prozak out of business. But if you happen to be an ardent fan of a set yolk, hard boil your eggs by all means. Congrats on your infinitely less stressful peeling process.
Vegetarian Scotch Eggs
Now, when that mushy pea ultra-thick bechamel is good and thoroughly chilled and the last egg has been freed from its shell, it’s time to tackle the assembly. For this, you’re going to need flour, 2 eggs beaten, more oil than I care to admit, and a hope as well as a prayer.
Okay, I’m being over-dramatic here, but I have to say, the mushy pea coating does take a bit of patience (and a lot of flour) to wield. But once you have the egg enrobed, breaded and in the oil, all the harrowing stuff is over. Then it’s simply a case of fishing the eggs out of the oil at the appropriate time. And this is a much easier feat without the sausage meat.
One of the major pitfalls of the traditional scotch egg often occurs during the frying process. The oil is too hot and the outside browns before the sausage meat can cook through. Or the eggs are left in the oil too long in an effort to thoroughly cook the sausage meat and the yolk solidifies. It’s a high stakes game you can artfully avoid by simply skipping the meat. So yeah, the mushy peas are a bit of a chore to work with, but the frying process? Psssh! It’s a breeze!
From here, there are no more instructions to follow. You may serve your Vegetarian Scotch Eggs however you see fit. I chose to serve mine atop a slice of toast slathered with hummus and dressed with microgreens and pomegranate arils. I thought it was pretty stellar. But you could also cart them along on a snowy picnic, served them perched on a bowl of cheesy grits. Heck! These guys are good to go for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The world is your oyster or, more appropriately, your scotch egg.
So, that’s everything you need to know about these Vegetarian Scotch Eggs with Mushy Peas. They’re a vegetarian delight you’ll want to have on repeat.
Vegetarian Scotch Eggs with Mushy Peas
- Candy Thermometer
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 sweet onion finely diced
- 1 3/4 cups frozen peas divided
- 2 tsp salt divided
- 1 + 1 tbsp cup whole milk divided
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour divided
- 1/4 cup *white wine
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 8 large eggs divided
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 cups breadcrumbs
- 4 cups canola oil
- Heat the oil until shimmering in a small, deep skillet. Add the onion and reduce the heat to low. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt and sweat the onions for 5 minutes or until just translucent. Take the skillet off of the stove and transfer the onions to a plate. Set aside.
- Place 1 1/2 cups of the peas in a small saucepan and cover with water. Place the pot over high and bring it to a boil. Cook until the peas plump up and turn a darker shade of green. Drain the peas and transfer them to a food processor.
- Add the onions, salt and 1 tbsp of the milk to the food processor and blitz until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Return the skillet to the heat and add the butter. Melt over medium heat until foamy. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the flour to form a roux. Toast the roux until it smells nutty and turns a soft golden color. Gradually whisk in the wine followed by the remaining milk. The sauce should thick and glossy. Take the skillet off of the heat and whisk in a teaspoon of the remaining salt and the nutmeg.
- Transfer the bechamel to a large bowl and whisk in the pea puree. Fold in the remaining frozen peas and leave the sauce to come down to room temperature. Once it cools, cover tightly with plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Once the bechamel has chilled, place 6 of the 8 eggs in a small saucepan. Add enough water to cover the eggs by an inch. Place the pan over high heat. Bring the water to a boil and add the baking soda. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the eggs for 4 minutes before transferring them to an ice bath. Let them sit in there for 10 minutes before peeling.
- Pour the remaining flour into a wide shallow bowl. Spoon a 1/4 cup amount of the sweet pea mixture onto the flour. Coat the exterior of the pea mixture completely in flour before forming into a disc. Place a peeled egg in the center of that disc and fold the pea mixture around it. Roll the pea mixture in the flour once more before transferring to a plate. Repeat with the other peeled eggs.
- Crack the remaining eggs into a bowl and beat them with a fork. In a small bowl, whisk to combine the breadcrumbs and the remaining salt. Transfer the mixture to a wide shallow bowl and set aside.
- Coat the scotch egg in the beaten egg before tossing them in the breadcrumbs. Transfer to a plate once the eggs are uniformly encrusted. Repeat with remaining eggs.
- Pour the canola oil in a large deep cast-iron skillet. Heat the oil 350°F and add the eggs, 3 at a time, to oil. Fry until golden, turning once, about 3 minutes a side. Transfer the finished eggs to a plate lined with paper towel.
- Serve the eggs immediately any way you see fit. I served mine on a piece of toast slathered with hummus and top with micro-greens, sesame seeds, and pomegranate arils