Baked Scotch Eggs

Happy New Years Greetings my foodie friends! I hope the new year is treating you all well, and if you have made new year’s resolutions that you have had good luck in keeping them so far. Mostly, I don’t make resolutions in the traditional sense. However, I have made a one word resolution this year so I am excited to see how that unfolds. In the food realm, I’m aiming to learn to make black bean burgers and to practice using my slow cooker more. I don’t really feel like those are resolutions but “to do” list items. What about you? What are you hoping to do this year?

I’m excited to bring you my recipe for Baked Scotch Eggs to kick off the New Year! I’ve been sitting on this recipe for a while now, and I have no good reason for not sharing sooner. Please forgive me. This is a simple recipe, requiring few ingredients, that makes a fancy-feeling dinner, or an elegant breakfast. You can make this to impress just about anyone who digs on eggs and sausage. I have a little trick for you if you want to up the ante, it will knock the socks off anyone eating with you, and only you will know it was easy-peasy. That’s the best kind of trick, isn’t it?!

Scotch Egg and Salad

Baked Scotch Eggs

Ingredients
1 lb breakfast sausage*
5 eggs
1 tablespoon flour
1/3 cup Panko** breadcrumbs
Non-stick spray

Steps
1. Cook your eggs with your preferred hard-boil method. I put eggs in a pan with cold water, then bring to a boil, and take off the heat for 7 minutes. Carefully transfer from the hot water into an ice bath, and let sit for 10 minutes before peeling.
Ice Bath
2. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204.4 degrees Celsius). Line a jelly-roll pan with foil and put a cooling rack on it. Spray with non-stick spray.
3. Divide your sausage into 5 equal portions. If you have a scale, you are looking for 5 1/8 ounces (145.3 grams) per portion.
4. Take a peeled egg, roll it in the flour, and then shake off the excess. You want just a thin coating to help the sausage stick to the egg.
5. Very carefully, take the sausage portion and shape it around the egg. When you close it up, be sure to smooth the seam of the sausage over. (It may feel a bit like a middle school clay project!) Repeat for each egg.
6. Roll your sausage balls in the Panko to coat.*** Place on the cooling rack.
7. Put in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes. You want to make sure the sausage is no longer pink.

Sausage Portions

* Tip – If you wish to impress folks, you can make your own breakfast sausage. I promise you, it is not hard at all. Here’s how you do it.
– 1 lb ground pork
– 1 tablespoon Penzey’s breakfast sausage seasoning, or other breakfast sausage seasoning blend
– Mix it up with your hands and then use! See how easy that was!! It takes an extra couple of minutes, but you can tell everyone that you made your own sausage, and they’ll be totally wowed. Do it!

egg formation
** Here is a post that explains Panko breadcrumbs in detail in case this is your first time to be exposed to them. It’s worth the switch from regular breadcrumbs to Panko; I promise.

***My personal recommendation is to only put the Panko breadcrumbs on the eggs you plan on eating that meal. These make lovely leftovers, but the Panko doesn’t reheat well so if you know you’ll save two of them for lunch the following day, then skip the breadcrumbs on those two.

Panko Bath

Depending on your sausage approach, if you were using my dad’s good friend, Jimmy Dean, there are lots of flavor varieties that could spice up your eggs. If you are making your own, I think you can trust your own palate to know when and how to add more heat or flavors as you prefer. Trust your judgment. It is your kitchen, after all.

The aroma as these bake is heavenly. It makes me think of a weekend morning, even on a Thursday night. The layer of sausage around the eggs keeps them from overcooking which means the eggs come out soft and tender, wrapped inside a blanket of spicy sausage goodness. My preferred meal is to pair the Scotch Eggs with a salad or some steamed broccoli and carrot sticks to make sure that I get in my veggies. For leftovers, you could slice up the egg between some hearty bread for a breakfast sandwich that I am sure would be divine.

Whole Scotch Egg

As there are only a few ingredients in this recipe, I do encourage you to use the best ones you can find. My preference is to use eggs from one of my favorite vendors at the nearby farmer’s market, ground pork from Richardson Farms (also from the farmer’s market), and the breakfast sausage spice blend from Penzey’s. I like feeling connected to the people who grow/produce the items I buy, and I believe that the quality of my food is higher. Plus, knowing the sources of my food makes the meal more special for the boyfriend and me because we can go back and share with the vendors what we made with the items we bought. That’s always fun to do.

One final note: sometimes shaping the sausage is tricky. You think you’ve gotten it all smoothed out. You believe the seam is meshed together well, and then your scotch egg comes out of the oven looking like this.

Cracked Egg
Well, my friends, don’t despair. I assure you, it’s still edible, and your egg is still fine. It’s just a great reason to try again next week. After all, practice makes perfect, yes? I just want you to know you aren’t alone when this happens. Dig in, and happy eating!

Nutritional Information: 1 Scotch Egg
Calories: 350
Fat: 24 grams
Carbs: 2.6 grams
Protein: 30 grams
Calcium: 4.5%

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Baked Pesto Shrimp

This dish is pure baked deliciousness. It’s easy (4 ingredients if you don’t count the ingredient you use to grease the pan) and is done in the time it takes you to say “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” Well nearly, anyway. The point is that this dish rocks my world, and I think it will do the same for you. It’s also pretty versatile. If you aren’t a shrimp eater, scallops would work as would cubes of any kind of firm white fish. I’ve served the dish for special occasions like Valentine’s Day and made it when I’m the only one eating it. It’s that fancy and that simple, all at the same time. Give it a try; you’ll be glad you did.

Soooo tasty!

Baked Pesto Shrimp (adapted from Going Solo in the Kitchen)

Ingredients
3 tablespoons Panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons pesto
1/2 teaspoon Parmesan cheese
5 ounces peeled and deveined shrimp
wee bit o’ butter or non-stick spray

Steps
1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and grease your baking dish. Typically, I use a smidgen of butter and smear it around the dish with a paper towel.

Smidgen of Butter

2. In a roomy bowl, mix together your pesto and 2 tablespoons of your breadcrumbs. It will be sort of crumbly, and that’s okay.
3. Add in your shrimp, and mix together. You want the pesto-breadcrumb mixture to coat around all the shrimp.


4. Put into the baking dish, in a single layer as much as possible. A little overlap is okay, but overall, you want one layer. Top with the remaining tablespoon of Panko and your Parmesan cheese.
5. Slide it into the oven for about 5 – 6 minutes.  When you take it out, give it a minute to cool, or it will scald the top layer of your tongue off, which will prevent good eats in the coming week. Just don’t leave it on top of the warm oven to cool. 🙂

Headed Into the Oven

A note about cooking shrimp: The bottom line is two-fold. Shrimp cook crazy fast, and overcooked shrimp taste crazy bad. You are looking at two indicators when discerning if the  shrimp is cooked or not. The first is color. As shrimp cooks, you’ll see it turn opaque and either a white or pink. You aren’t looking for a super dark or super bright color though. If it’s too bright or dark, chances are that you’ve overcooked it. The second is shape. Most raw shrimp are a loose sort of question mark or barely curved line shape. As they cook, they curl or tighten up. You want to watch for a C shape. The key to a C is that the ends are still kind of far apart. If the ends of the shrimp curl into each other so it’s closer to an O, that’s not a good sign. I’ve read and heard that overcooked shrimp tastes like a pencil eraser. I can promise you that I’ve never taste-tested a pencil eraser, so I cannot confirm that. However, overcooked shrimp are rubbery, chewy, and sort of challenging to eat. You’ll probably know it when you bite into it. Typically when I’m pan- cooking shrimp, I’ll leave them on their first side the longest, and then the flip side never gets more than 2 minutes. They are usually 2/3 – 3/4 of the way done when I flip. I’m hesitant to give you specific times as there are so many factors that can influence time. However, you are probably looking at 4 – 8 minutes, on average, for cooking time. It may take some practice, but don’t be intimidated. You can do it!

I used pesto that I made with this recipe, and I had tablespoon cubes in the freezer so it was super simple to pull out two cubes to defrost while I was at work. I usually keep a bag of frozen shrimp in my freezer also. The shrimp always defrosts while I’m at work, and if I forget, it is a protein that will defrost quickly while I’m prepping other parts of dinner. It just takes a little bit of cold water in a bowl, and presto-changeo – it’s defrosted! This recipe comes together so quickly that it’s a great go-to even if you’ve forgotten to plan ahead or if you’ve had a tough day and want a special meal. Even if you don’t have the recipe in front of you – remember: equal parts Panko and pesto for the mixture plus one tablespoon Panko for the topping and a sprinkle of cheese. It’s that easy.

Who Needs A Plate??

Let’s talk about Panko, people. Panko breadcrumbs are a Japanese-style breadcrumb that is rougher and has more texture than your traditional, run-of-the-mill breadcrumb. It’s not as fine as traditional breadcrumbs so you get more crunch bang for your breadcrumb buck. Because they are a more substantial breadcrumb, items that are coated with Panko hold up better under sauces before going mushy and goopy on you. They won’t keep their full crunch under a heavy sauce or under a large amount of sauce, but they will do quite nicely with a light sauce, a pan fry, an oven bake, or any other preparation where you would use breadcrumbs. Substitute Panko, and you won’t be disappointed. I’ve found Panko on the lower shelf in the breadcrumb aisle at my grocery store as well as near the sushi station. You may also want to check the Asian or international food aisle of your store. Since I’ve made the switch to Panko, I can’t think of a time in the last three years when I’ve used the regular breadcrumbs. They are just that good.

If you want to make Baked Pesto Shrimp for two people, I don’t think you necessarily need to double the whole thing – just add a couple more ounces of shrimp and one more part Panko and pesto plus serve some side dishes. Just my two cents on that. I have made it with scallops as well as a mix of shrimp and scallops. I’ve never made it with the cubes of fish although I believe it will work just as well. You may need to adjust the cooking time a little. Test the fish with a fork to see if it flakes to tell if it is done before you take it out to serve. If you try it with the fish, let me know how it goes for you. And to everyone, happy eating!

Nutritional Information – the whole thing (if you eat it for one, like I do!)
Calories: 393
Fat: 20 g
Carbs: 14. 6 g
Protein: 35. 8 g
Calcium: 23.5%
Iron: 19%