This recipe is part of Crispianity: a column devoted to all foods crispy and crunchy, two of the most underappreciated attributes of a great dish. Author Adeena Sussman is a food writer and recipe developer, pairing here with her friend, photographer Evan Sung. Sussman’s most recent cookbook, co-authored with Lee Brian Schrager, is Fried and True: More Than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Fried Chicken and Sides.
Behold the pastrami Scotch egg, a recipe I adapted from a British standby in order to marry some of my favorite things — eggs, good-quality deli and crunchy food — into one compact package.
The idea behind this classic snack (for reference, check out the gold-standard version by the peerless April Bloomfield at New York’s The Breslin, which comes on and off the menu on a whim) is simple: Encase a soft-boiled egg in breakfast meat, bread it, then fry it to a golden crunch — in the process, creating a meal-in-one great for breakfast or lunch on the go.
Most Scotch eggs begin with loose sausage meat, befitting a dish with roots as an English roadside snack. But as I sat at Pastrami Queen on New York’s Upper East Side a few weeks back eating the city’s best deli sandwich (sorry, Katz’s), it dawned on me that pastrami had serious potential as a Scotch egg sausage swap-in. Crusted with a mixture of coriander, garlic, black pepper and mustard — and blessed with a prodigious fat streak — it has a spice blend that can stand up to even the best sausage meat, not to mention an immutable connection to the city I call my home.
Make sure you get the fattiest pastrami you can find (specify when you order a pound from your butcher), and please (I’m begging) don’t opt for turkey pastrami. You’ll also need to dust off the food processor for this one; giving the pastrami a high-speed whirl binds the meat into an ideal liaison, making it relatively easy to wrap around the eggs. Serve them with a mustardy dressing and your next New York deli-style craving may just be satisfied at home.
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons grainy mustard
- 2 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon shallots, finely minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 9 good-quality eggs (this is important because you're going to cut these babies in half, and you want the yolks to look all golden and gorgeous)
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
- 2 cups panko bread crumbs
- 1 1/4 pounds pastrami (make sure it's extra fatty, to the point where you'd love eating it but might be embarrassed to admit it)
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, toasted and crushed
- 1 teaspoon grainy mustard
- 6 cups salad greens
- pickled onions
- grainy mustard
For the dressing:
- Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight lid, seal tightly and shake until emulsified.
For the eggs:
- In a medium bowl prepare an ice water bath with half ice cubes and half water so it’s really cold.
- Place 6 of the eggs in a medium saucepan and cover with 1 to 2 inches of cold water.
- Bring to a boil, boil for one minute, cover, remove from heat and let sit for six minutes. The goal here is to avoid cooking the hell out of the eggs, so that when you eventually slice them in half after they're breaded and fried, the yolks still ooze slightly and you feel like a boss.
- Using a skimmer or a slotted spoon transfer the eggs to the ice water bath, cracking the shells very slightly, which will make them easy to peel in about 15-20 minutes.
- One at a time, tap the chilled eggs on the countertop at their narrow end, then peel them gently under running water and reserve.
- Arrange the cup of seasoned flour in one soup-sized bowl, the panko in a second bowl, and the two remaining unboiled eggs in a third; lightly beat the eggs.
- In a food processor, process the pastrami until it basically forms a paste, 20-30 seconds.
- To the processor add the remaining 1 tablespoon flour, the egg, the caraway and the pepper and pulse until incorporated, 5 to 10 pulses.
- Using your hands, press a generous 1/4 cup (about 3 1/2 ounces) of the pastrami mixture into a thin disc about 6 inches in diameter.
- Uncover the pastrami, take one of the soft-boiled eggs and dredge it in the flour, shaking off the excess.
- Wrap the pastrami patty around the flour-dredged egg, wetting your hands slightly to help mold the meat around the egg to form it into an egg-shaped outer layer (be gentle; don’t manhandle the egg; there’s a soft-boiled yolk in there!)
- Repeat with remaining eggs and chill for 20 minutes.
- Gently roll a pastrami-covered egg again in the flour, shaking off the excess, then roll it in the beaten egg, then in the panko, rolling and pressing gently to help the crumbs adhere.
- Repeat process with remaining eggs.
- Fill a 4-quart saucepan just under halfway with oil and heat to 350°F (please use a candy or deep-frying thermometer if you have one; if not, throw a piece of bread into the oil and if it turns golden and crisp in a hurry you’re good to go).
- Gently lower two eggs at a time into the hot oil and fry (oil temperature will drop to 325°F, which is just where you want it) until golden, 4-5 minutes.
- Repeat with remaining eggs.
- Arrange some of the salad greens on a plate and arrange an egg on top.
- Using a serrated knife slice the egg open lengthwise (don’t fink out; saw through the egg aggressively because the more you half-ass it and drag the knife through the egg, the higher the chance of the coating and pastrami separating from the egg).
- Repeat with remaining salad greens and eggs.
- Drizzle with the dressing and serve with the cornichons, onions and mustard.
Find more fried egg recipes on Food Republic: