Islington pub chefs in Scotch Egg Championships
Four of Islington’s pubs took on all challengers this week in a titanic contest that separated the culinary men from the boys.
The second annual Scotch Egg Challenge took place last Tuesday, with some of the finest eggs-perts in the land competing for the attention of the judging panel.
Islington was well-represented in the competition – The Modern Pantry, in St John’s Square and the Coach and Horses, in Ray Street, both in Clerkenwell, The Drapers Arms, in Barnsbury Street, Barnsbury and the Jugged Hare, in Chiswell Street, Finsbury, all took part.
The format of the competition, which took place in the Ship pub in Southwark, was simple.
Each team had 15 minutes to cook their scotch egg fresh in the kitchen and present it for a blind-tasting comparison.
Unusual ingredients such as duck, goose, quail, beetroot, venison and even kangaroo were common place and although the field included heavyweights like Heston Blumenthal’s The Hinds Head, last year’s champions didn’t defend their crown so the title was wide open.
But what did our boozers have to offer?
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The Modern Pantry
Head chef Rob Mcleary created a south east Asian contender for the competition which he thought was head and shoulders above the rest.
With lemongrass and krupuk in the mix, the Modern Pantry’s rendang special was a far cry from the traditional sausage meat.
He said “Our egg is very different from what everyone else does – we use all the trimmings left from the butchery, fry it off, add ginger, garlic and lemongrass. It’s very Thai tasting and we think it’s a winner.”
The Coach and Horses
Lee Norton is head chef at the Coach and Horses and he has gone back to basics with his entry.
He said: “We discovered that the original scotch egg was made with haggis – that’s why it’s called a scotch egg, so we though we would do that. I love haggis and have always wanted to give it a go.
“We then roll it in oats to give it a real Scottish flavour. We tried putting whiskey and all sorts in, but we thought we would keep it simple. I don’t think anyone else has done that so it should give us an edge.”
The Drapers Arms
With Nick Gibson at the helm – who was landlord at the home of last year’s victorious egg – the Drapers Arms were always in with a shout. Their gourmet creation included black pudding and a duck egg,
Mr Draper said: “We have an artisan approach to all our cooking and our scotch egg is no different. The black pudding will add interest, richness and depth and a very expensive egg. The secret to a soft yolk is to cook the egg slightly before encasing it in meat and frying it at the right temperature.”
The Jugged Hare
The Jugged Hare is a restaurant known for its ultra-British cuisine, so how would head chef Richard O’Connell represent this ethos via the medium of a scotch egg?
He said: “Anything British and edible we will go for down here, shark, squirrel, the lot. So for the scotch egg we have chosen wild boar heart. We have mixed this with a bit of leg as well, because those hearts are tough. I think if you hit them with a tennis racquet they would go pretty far.
“I wouldn’t go down with a normal egg, it just wouldn’t be fun. I am going all out to surprise.”
After deliberating, the judges put the Drapers Arms in third place. With the Bladebone Inn, Berkshire, and the Hinds Head, Bray, first and second, so the Drapers officially have the best egg in the capital.
Mr Gibson said: “It’s great, the chefs have done really well. We will be ready to recreate it if people want to come and try one.”