Great Scotch! Manchester's take on the Scotch egg has become a snack sensation

What do you get if you cross black pudding, sausage meat and secret seasoning with a humble pickled egg? Only the finest new export from Manchester...

Would it taste as I remembered? It had been the most exciting gastronomic experience I had had in months. But it had been enveloped in an alcohol-induced memory haze. Now here I was in the thin light of a wintry afternoon, about to do it again, only cold-sober.

A fortnight before, I had emerged from a branch of Livebait where I had been presented with the most insipid platter of fruits de mer I've ever had in my life. To make matters worse, the service had been so execrably slow that four of us had consumed a bottle of champagne and three bottles of Picpoul de Pinet before the main course arrived. We emerged from the restaurant hungry and ebriose.

Across the road, Albert Square was filled with the tents and stalls of the Manchester Food and Drink Festival. We entered in search of sustenance and discovered that one stall seemed particularly popular. The Manchester Egg, its banner proclaimed. There we picked up what looked like Scotch eggs. But this was an entirely different beast from its cold Caledonian cousin, which is usually served fridge-chilled.

The Manchester Egg was still hot, fresh from the deep-fat fryer. When you bit into it, warm, meaty juices trickled into the mouth with a dark richness. A heady, aromatic smell met the nostrils before an unexpected piquancy hit the back of the mouth, cutting the richness of the pale yellow yolk. The rare-breed sausage meat surrounding the egg had been mixed with Bury black pudding imparting a fulsome richness. And the egg at the centre was not hard-boiled but pickled – creating a long, lingering balance between the tastes of warm, oozing meat juices, creamy yolk and the tartness of a mild vinegar.

But perhaps it was just me that had been pickled.

So two weeks on, here I was, in The Castle, a traditional Victorian brown boozer in the city's bohemian northern quarter, to see if the experience could be replicated. It was here that the Manchester Egg had been invented by an amateur chef named Ben Holden, during his lunchbreak from his work as a web designer.

Holden, an innovative character, had long developed the habit of crunching up the remnants of his salt'n'vinegar crisps into a rough powder and dipping a pickled egg into them. "I enjoyed the contrast between the savoury crunch and the smoothness of the egg white," he recalls.

But on the day in question, he also ordered a Scotch egg from the pub's pie warmer. The combination set him thinking. He went home that night determined to fuse the tastes. After several experiments he fell into conversation with another Castle regular, Robert Owen Brown, the chef at the Mark Addy gastropub in Salford, who has a fondness for all things offal. He suggested mixing black pudding in with the sausage.

Over the next three months, Holden experimented, making 30 or 40 eggs every Thursday evening and putting them in the Castle pie warmer on Friday lunchtimes. They became a local sensation. People came from miles to try them with a glass of Old Tom, the dark ale from the Stockport brewer Robinsons, which was voted best beer at the 2009 World Beer Awards. Often they would sell out in half an hour.

Each week he tried different spices, varying proportions of sausage and black pudding and a range of crumbs on the casing. He settled on a 6:4 ratio of sausage to pig's blood, Japanese panko breadcrumbs and a blend of spices with paprika, salt, pepper and two secret ingredients. The recipe was finalised by the Manchester Food and Drink Festival which went wild for the eponymous egg.

"We sold 2,500 in four days," he says. "I was drafting friends in but we still couldn't make them fast enough. Everybody wanted them, from young kids to old ladies. It has become a gateway to black pudding and pickled egg for people who say they didn't like either of them. We even turned three vegetarians."

But would it taste as good to me as it did that night, when it was aided by the world's two best relishes, alcohol and hunger?

Up in the Castle's kitchen, Holden's business svengali and amateur sous-chef, Rob Wales, is preparing the eggs. He's in a bit of a flap because the butchers, the esteemed WH Frost of Chorlton, have mixed the sausage and pudding by hand instead of mincing them together as they usually do.

But Holden is un-flummoxed, remixing the meats by hand, adding the spices and forming the case around the pickled egg before dropping them into simmering oil. "The oil is the healthy bit – we use sunflower," he says. Your average supermarket Scotch egg contains a massively calorific 21 grams of fat – nearly one fifth of an adult man's daily recommended intake.

When they are cooked and cut, the meat casing looks attractively mottled, but Holden is not happy. "It won't taste the same, or look right in the photographs," he says. He sends off to Frosts for the correct mix. When it arrives, he gives it to Rob Wales to make the proper version while he goes down to meet Rufus Carter, the managing director of Patchwork Paté, which makes Old Tom Chutney using the celebrated Robinsons ale. Holden is hoping Carter will develop a special chutney for his Egg, with a base of caramelised red onions spiked with the city's native, red-fruit beverage, Vimto.

As they speak, Rob Wales enters with Eggs made from the correct mix. He has made them the size of cricket balls. They look like bull's testicles. Holden, the perfectionist, goes upstairs for a third attempt.

But we have waited long enough. Rufus and I urge Rob on to cut open his creations. There is a surprising but delicious crunch as he cuts through the panko. We each take a slice.

"Oh!" cries Rufus Carter before falling silent as he chews, his eyes closed. "This is the best new taste I have had in years," he concludes. "The cut, the crunch, the lift, the piquancy. The balance. And it lingers in the mouth. This tastes better than it has the right to with such a mix of ingredients."

He is right. It is warm and peppery, rich and sharp, moist and has a huge depth of flavour. My memory had not lied.

It would go well with Old Tom but also with a Gewürztraminer, a St Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, a Vouvray, a St Emilion or a Pomerol. "Or a champagne," cries Rufus. "This is extraordinary – it is like the funky love child of Kate Moss and Pete Doherty," he adds, though he might have chosen a Mancunian musical maverick, of whom there are plenty.

Manchester has taken the Egg to its heart – and has done so across the board. It is on sale at Manchester City's ground, sold out before a crowd of United supporters and has been embraced by FC United, the breakaway club formed by die-hard fans when the Glazers took over at Old Trafford.

Four local restaurants are making it under the licence of Mr Holden's Famous Manchester Egg. There are plans for an Egg Van to transport the product round the region and a mobile fryer to serve it at sporting venues, festivals and pop concerts. Holden's Twitter account now has 2,000-plus followers.

Britain has a pantheon of genuinely original regional dishes: the Yorkshire pudding, Cornish pasty, Cumberland sausage, Lancashire hotpot and Bakewell tart. In that firmament the Manchester Egg, I predict, will take a deserved place.

Mr Holden's Famous Manchester Egg

Makes 5

300g premium sausage meat
200g Bury black pudding
5 free-range pickled eggs (ideally pickle your own, but shop-bought work just fine)
Japanese panko breadcrumbs (from the Chinese supermarket or easily ordered online)
Salt and pepper
Beaten egg
Vegetable oil for frying

First of all, take the Bury black pudding and the premium sausage meat and remove the skin. Mix them together at a ratio of 60-40 (as per measurements above) with your hands (you have to boil the black pudding for a minute to soften it up; alternatively, ask your friendly local butcher to grind them together for you).

Next, wrap the mix around a pickled egg. The best technique for this is to flatten the mix into a patty about 12cm in diameter and place the egg in the middle, then fold the mix up around the egg.

I find Pandora's is the best pickled egg brand you can get from the supermarket – and the right amount of mix is around 100g per egg.

Roll the mix into a perfect ball around the egg.

You then dip into the egg mix and roll it in the breadcrumb (I also add a secret blend of my own Mr Holden's spice mix into the crumb – I can't tell you what the ingredients are, but have an experiment with spicing it up a bit; you can't go too wrong by just making sure the crumb has a good amount of top-quality sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper added). Press down to make sure as much crumb is coating the egg as possible – for extra crunch, try double-dipping in egg and crumb for a really substantial bite.

Deep fry at 170C for 7-8 minutes and give it a moment or two to cool before tucking in.

Easy peasy.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Day In a Page

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

    The Locked Room Mysteries

    As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
    Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

    How I made myself Keane

    Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
    A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

    Wear in review

    A look back at fashion in 2014
    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

    Might just one of them happen?
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?