Unless that man is Paul Newman. Or the eggs came out the back end of a quail.
Back to the title – which is (duh!) from the movie Cool Hand Luke, starring my all-time favourite actor, the most beautiful and talented (and, alas, late) Paul Newman. He even looks nauseatingly good shovelling eggs into his face. What can I say, my inner child seems to be more of an inner Golden Girl.
Way back I had the opportunity to visit Singapore, where I tasted the most phenom-nom-nomenal Crayfish Laksa with tiny hard-boiled quail eggs which remains to this day the very best meal I have ever eaten. I painstakingly extracted each quail egg from the laksa broth, then carefully disected it to exclaim, over and over again, at their pure unadulterated cuteness. Ever since that meal, I have been on the hunt for these gorgeous little eggs… so imagine my happiness & joy at discovering that some of the bigger Spar supermarkets in the vicinity stock them!
It was one of my many culinary dreams to concoct teeny tiny little scotch eggs – you know, those crumbed mince-coated boiled eggs that are deep-fried and come back into fashion every couple of years along with prawn cocktail and fondue? Well, I figured a quail scotch egg would be so much more elegant (plus super-cute). Of course, a week before I was planning to see my dream become a reality, a popular local foodie magazine went and featured a recipe for scotch quail eggs. I tried it but I’m happy (as in, smug) to report that mine is better *neener neener neener!*.
I had many, many ideas for coatings but decided that I did not want to overwhelm my audience – the prawn-mince/lemongrass and chickpea/harissa combinations will have to wait for another day. This time I tried good old beef and chicken – sausage meat works best since all the other goodies in there make it stick well and more importantly prevent shrinkage (I tried with regular beef mince and it shrank something horrible! The egg had bald patches). I LOVE eggs, because of their versatility and nutritional value – and this dish is like, protein on protein! It’s protein-squared. It’s protein to the power of protein!! *calms nerd-self down*.
I decided against crumbs and deep-frying – so they weren’t perhaps the most attractively tanned specimens, but I’m not a big fan of cold pre-fried goodies gone limp and chewy by the time they are served. I unleashed them on my friends with a sweet chilli sauce, but a nice wholegrain mustard would have been awesome too.
Since Easter is coming, it’s easy to make this look like an Easter egg hunt (a Paleo Easter egg hunt, even) – how cute as little nibbly bits before Easter lunch proper starts?? (ooh! another idea – lamb mince, with mint sauce for dipping!).
For 18 beautiful weeny scotch egglets:
300g chicken sausage
300g beef sausage – If you are South African, aim for something with a finer texture than traditional Boerewors.
1/2 onion, finely chopped and fried in a little bit of butter til translucent
2 teaspoons of garlic and ginger paste
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, or whatever other flavourful bits and bobs you wish to throw in
a squeeze of lemon juice
18 magnificently marbled fresh quail eggs
- First things first – preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a baking sheet with foil. Unless, of course, you enjoy scrubbing dishes late into the night.
- Next up is the cutest thing ever to fall out of a bird’s bottom; carefully unpack the eggs from their little tray and then tell everyone how frikkin cute they are – post photos to Facebook, message everyone you know. Once you’ve come down from your cute-induced high, place them carefully in a pan on the stove and cover with cold water. Switch the stove on to medium heat and bring to the boil – boil for exactly 5 minutes while giving it the occasional swirl with a slotted spoon.
- Have an ice-bath ready – as soon as the 5 minutes are up, scoop the eggs out with the slotted spoon and place in the cold water until they are just cool enough to handle.
- Take a deep breath. Now, gently peel the eggs – it’s not difficult and the shells peel off well (and are a pretty pale blue colour on the inside) but the eggs being so teeny can slow things down. I’m not sure if you can see it in the photo, but most of my eggs had little dings on the surface – oops.
- In two separate bowls, squeeze the sausage out of their casings. I know – eeeeuw! Get over it, then mix the onion and parsley with the beef, and the garlic, ginger and lemon with the chicken. Don’t add any salt – being sausage meat, it will be sufficiently seasoned already.
- Scoop out a ping-pong sized blob of prepared mince and flatten it in the palm of your hand (I found it easier to divide each sausage mixture into 9 blobs first, to make sure each egg got it’s fair share). Put an egg in the middle of the “patty” then fold the sides over the egg and kind of roll it around to smooth the surface. Lather, rinse, repeat (kidding about lather and rinse!).
- Place the neatly covered eggs on the lined baking tray and pop into the hot oven for about 20 minutes, turning over halfway. Yeah they aren’t exactly crispy brown but the delicious taste and velvety texture will make up for it.
To keep my Easter theme going, I served these on a bed of leafy green-ness, with dippy things and mixed baby tomatoes (look! look! they’re the same size as the eggs! cuteness!!!!). These are so yummy (and so cute) you’ll WANT to eat 50 of them!!