After spending a number of years living as an expat American in England, I thought it might be fun to look up a current British expat, who lives a few blocks away from me here in New York City, in order to indulge one of the little habits I picked up while living in Old Blighty. In addition to getting used to the idea of starting the pub crawl around 2pm (not too difficult to get used to!) I discovered the simple joys of the egg as pub food. In the north of England there is a wonderful old pub called The Golden Rule and the friendly proprietor at that beloved establishment has a nice stock of Scotch Eggs at the bar that he serves with a pot of Coleman’s hot mustard. There is nothing quite like the flavor of an egg surrounded by hearty Cumbrian sausage washed down with a pint of lager after a long walk in the hills of the Lake District. I have minded my p’s and q’s in pubs all over England, from London to Liverpool to Newcastle, and I always found the addition of a pickled egg with my pint of London Pride a superb way to enjoy a few hours at the local. Along with a bag of crisps, the lovely spicy egg can stave off the hunger for dinner nicely and allow for further consumption of pints. I know that Nick Bacon, a British gentleman who works as an impersonator of Rich Uncle Moneybags, was my man with the plan for pickling eggs, so I spent a recent morning learning how to do it so I could have a little nosh stored in the refrigerator to accompany the cocktail hour during the short cold days of winter.
Nick got his instruction from his Egg Pickling Consultant back in England, Mr. Paul Rolph, and the recipe and procedure as handed down is included here so the egg pickling process can be shared with thirsty and hungry Americans. It is important to store your jar of eggs in the refrigerator to avoid development of bacteria that can result in food poisoning, so after the cocktail hour put any leftover eggs back in the cold. Serve the pickled eggs with a nice bag of crisps, or as we Yankees refer to them, Potato Chips.
1 dozen large eggs
1 ½ pints of white vinegar
1 tsp whole peppercorns
1 tsp Pickling spices
½ tsp dried chilis.
1. Using pricker (available from Zabars, Bed Bath & Beyond) to make a hole in the larger end of each egg. (There is a small air pocket there. The hole in the shell allows the air to escape to relieve pressure as the egg liquids expand when heated and avoids cracked shells.)
2. Place eggs in uncovered saucepan of cold water, and bring to the boil. Turn off heat, put lid on saucepan, and leave for 15 minutes.
3. After 15 mins, drain off hot water from eggs, refill pan with cold water and set aside. After 5 mins, drain water and replace again with cold. Cooking eggs this way will prevent overcooking, which is what causes the purple discoloration that can often occur at the yolk/white interface.
4. Pour 1 pint white vinegar into small saucepan, add the peppercorns, spices and chilis. Warm though, and simmer (ie maintain just below boiling point) for 15 mins.
5. Allow vinegar to cool before pouring it, together with all spices, into a jar with a sealable lid.
6. Peel eggs, and drop into jar. When all eggs are in the jar, top up vinegar so that all eggs are covered. Shake lightly to mix spicy vinegar with fresh, and place jar in fridge. They should be ready to eat after a week.
I should acknowledge the invaluable help of my friend, Mr Paul Rolph of Nottingham, England in the development of this method.