Friday, March 16, 2012

‘Irish’ Eggs – Green, White and Gold for Paddy’s Day !

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I have horrible memories of my one appearance in the Dublin Paddy’s Day parade. I washed my costume the night before and it hadn’t quite dried the following morning. It actually formed a layer of frost while we waited for the parade to begin, only thawing out as I high-kicked my way down O’Connell Street. I was aiming for ‘glamorous’ but as I was a pale shade of blue under my fake tan, I think I achieved ‘Smurf’. Brrrrrr.
Traditionally the booziest day in the year, the Dublin parade has evolved from concentrated one-day Oktoberfest, to a more civilised week-long festival with plenty of interesting things to do besides consume vast lakes of Guinness.
While I try to get to some of the events, the best place to catch the parade is at home, in front of the TV, with suitably-coloured food to snack on. There has to be green. There has to be white, there has to be gold.
In my family home, the traditional meal was always bacon and cabbage with mashed potato and turnip so there was the green, white and gold of our flag on the plate. Keeping the colours in mind, and keeping in mind that our national saint’s day has gone all sophisti-mi-cated (to be said in a Dub accent), here is a wee snack for the day, an Irish version of the ‘Scotch’ egg, wrapped in a parsley colcannon. Make sure to use a floury potato.
For 12 ‘Irish’ eggs (feeding 4 people as a canapé) you will need...
… a deep fat fryer
12 quails’ eggs
4-6 slices of proscuitto or other cured ham (optional), cut into strips
360g freshly cooked mashed potato, simply seasoned with salt and white pepper, and cooled (don’t add butter or milk when mashing – you want this mixture as dry as possible).
4 tablespoons very finely chopped fresh parsley
1 spring onion, very finely chopped

6 tablespoons plain flour
2 large eggs, beaten
100g dried breadcrumbs

Sunflower oil for deep frying

1          First, hard boil the eggs by placing them in a saucepan of cold water, bringing them to the boil and boiling for 90 seconds. Drain the saucepan carefully and fill with cold water to cool the eggs quickly (otherwise you end up with that nasty green ring around the yolk – not the look I’m going for). Peel the eggs and leave to one side while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
2          Add the parsley and spring onion to the mashed potato and mix well.
3          Pat the quails’ eggs dry with kitchen paper and wrap with the strips of prosciutto.
4          Take a walnut-sized portion of the potato mixture in the palm of one hand and with the other, pat it into a round approximately ½ a centimetre thick. Place one of the quails’ eggs in the centre of the mixture and carefully enclose it in the potato, adding a little more potato if necessary to seal it in. (Be careful not to trap air, which would expand when frying and cause the package to burst.) Roll gently between the palms of your hands to form a smooth egg shape. Place on a tray and continue until you have enclosed all the eggs similarly. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
5          When you are ready to eat, set up a dipping station: Place the flour in a shallow bowl. Place the beaten egg in another shallow bowl beside it. Place the breadcrumbs in yet another bowl.
6          Carefully dip the prepared eggs in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. Follow with a second bath of egg and a second coating of breadcrumbs, patting gently to ensure a good stick. When you have coated all the eggs, heat your deep fat fryer to 180°C.
7          When the oil is at the correct temperature, place the prepared eggs in the basket – don’t overcrowd them or you’ll lower the temperature and the end result will be oily and horrible - and carefully lower into the hot fat. Cook for 3 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and serve immediately – unlike their ‘Scotch’ cousins, they don’t hang about.

Green, white, gold (and delicious)

Are these finicky? Yes.  Are they worth it? I think so. Happy St Patrick’s Day.
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