Sunday, March 10, 2013
Q-and-A: Central 214’s Chef Graham Dodds on Scotch Eggs and why everything’s better wrapped in sausage and fried
Plus, he shares his recipe.
DALLAS Well before his days as Chef at Central 214, Graham Dodds would spend his childhood summers in a town called Berwick-on-Tweed, a town on the border of England and Scotland. Technically an English locale, the town’s millenia-long history of changing hands (even though it last officially changed more than 500 years ago) has created an identity that Dodds remembers as slightly separatist – his grandfather, he says, flew a Scottish flag in front of the house despite the official border.
But while Scotland may have stopped a few miles North, the Scotch Egg did not. They were a ubiquitous snack during Dodds’ time there, and one that made enough of an impact for him to add his own Scotch Egg to the menu at Central 214. We chatted with Dodds about the Scotch Egg, its places in Britain and here, and how he prefers to go about making this classic British picnic treat.
Thanks for talking with us, Graham. To those of us who might be unfamiliar, can you describe exactly what a Scotch Egg is?
Sure – a scotch egg is basically a peeled, hard-boiled egg that has been wrapped in pork sausage, breaded with some sort of a crust – breadcrumb, generally – and then deep fried. They’ll usually do a sauce with it over there, too. They’ve got bottled sauces such as HP sauce, which is probably similar to A1.
Here, though, we dress it with a little frisee salad, like a nest, and then you’ve got that classic combination of frisee and egg, which is a classic French salad. I love it with that frisee salad and a little champagne vinaigrette to cut through the fried part of it a little bit.
So it’s basically a handheld breakfast – eggs, sausage and bread?
Yeah, and you see them everywhere. Over there, the scotch egg is considered picnic food, and you’ll see them in gas stations, cold and wrapped in plastic. They’re not very good [laughs], and they were probably been fried three days before. But I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with my grandmother, and she was a great cook. She’d make scotch eggs for us every once in awhile. Except I’m not sure we ever got to take it on a picnic – it was always raining when I was there [laughs].
So is your recipe the same one as hers?
Well, we’ve adapted it a little bit to be more appropriate for a fine-dining environment. I’m a little fanatical about the farm-to-table stuff, so we use eggs from Dis-n-Dat Farm in Corsicana, and they bring us these beautiful organic farm eggs with really vibrant yolks. Plus, we use a buttermilk-panko crust – I’m not sure they’d ever use panko over there!
But the sausage is still the same style?
Yeah, it’s banger sausage, which is pork shoulder and pork belly ground with a bunch of spices, though what really makes it unique is the addition of a bunch of mustard and bread crumbs. We make our banger sausage here – we also put it into links for our breakfast menu and our brunch menu.
So what’s the basic process involved in making a Scotch Egg?
First you hard boil the egg, then peel it, roll out the sausage a little bit into a round shape, and then flour the egg before you wrap the sausage around it. When you form the sausage around the egg, don’t get too thick around it – you want it to cook well without the crust getting too brown. Then here we’ll do a three-part breading; we flour the sausage, dip it in buttermilk, and then the panko at the end. We’ll fry it at a somewhat low temperature so we can cook the sausage through before it gets too brown.
It seems like a fairly labor-intensive process.
Yeah, it does require a little finesse at some points.
But so many people find it worth the effort, clearly – why do you think it became such a popular snack?
I think it’s texture thing – and the fact that most people love eggs. There’s the crunch of the crust and there’s definitely a kick with the mustard in the sausage, and then that soft neutral flavor in the middle of the egg. And we’ll cut it open and use a little crunchy fleur de sel in the middle to season the middle. It’s got a lot of different aspects that appeal to people.
It’s appealing to us – do you have a recipe that might be accessible for the home cook?
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