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Scotch Eggs

Scotch Egg by Sam Breach

A Scotch egg consists of a hard-boiled egg (with its shell removed) wrapped in a sausage meat mixture, coated in breadcrumbs or rolled oats, and deep-fried. The London department store Fortnum & Mason claims to have invented Scotch eggs in 1738,but they may have been inspired by the Moghul dish nargisi kofta (“Narcissus meatballs”).The earliest printed recipe is the 1809 edition of Mrs. Rundell’s A New System of Domestic Cookery. Mrs. Rundell – and later 19th-century authors – served them hot, with gravy offers many recipe variations for this Georgian treat, including the following:

8 hard boiled eggs, peeled
1 lb. bulk pork sausage
3/4 c. bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. sage
1/4 tsp. salt
Dash of pepper
2 eggs, well beaten
Vegetable oil

Roll each hard boiled egg in flour. Form a large, flat patty out of 2 ounces of the sausage. Carefully work the sausage around one of the floured eggs. Repeat with other eggs. In a shallow bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, sage, salt, and pepper. Dip each sausage egg in the beaten egg and roll it in the bread crumb mixture. Heat 1 to 2 inches of vegetable oil in a 3 quart saucepan to 360 degrees. Fry the eggs in the oil 4 to 6 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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Photo by Sam Breach, Becks & Posh blog

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The Comforts of Cold Ham

My Mother has undertaken to cure six Hams for Frank;–at first it was a distress, but now it is a pleasure.
Jane from Southampton to Cassandra
October 1, 1808

Officers in His Majesty’s Navy, if they wished to avoid a diet of hardtack at sea, were responsible for providing their own meals. As you can see from the above quote Jane Austen’s mother was helping her son, Frank, prepare for a voyage.

Butchering time came around every fall along with the harvest, once the weather had cooled from the heat of summer. It was an all consuming task as wisdom of the day encouraged cooks to “use every part of the pig except the squeal.” Sausages, hams, bacon and more were put aside to last through the coming year.

The following recipes give some idea of the work that lay ahead for the cook of the family, once the hogs had been butchered. The first two are from Martha Lloyd’s Household book, the one for bacon, coming from Mrs. Craven, Martha’s aunt by marriage.

To Cure Bacon
Rub the flitches over the Salt Petre, particularly observing to force some in where the hocks are taken off, then take one pound of coarse feeding syrup [molasses] and as much common Salt as will mix together. Strew it regularly over the flitches, cover it over with the common salt and press down close with the hand, let it lay twenty four hours, then rub it well and add a little fresh salt, let it bur rubbed and changed every other day for a month and then hung up in a chimney where a moderate wood firse is kept for three weeks and it shoudl afterwards be kept in a chest with dry straw.
Mrs Craven



To Make Hams
Take two legs of pork, each weighing about fifteen pounds, rub them over with two oz of salt petre finely beaten, let them be a day and night, then take two pounds of Brown Sugar, one pound and a half of salt, mix them together and rub your Hams with it, let them eb three weeks, Turn and rub them with pickle every day.
Martha Lloyd’s Household Book


Very Fine Sausages
Take a leg of pork or veal; pick it clean from skin or fat, and to every pound of lean meat put two pounds of beef-suet pick’d from the skins; shred the meat and suet severally very fine; then mix them together, and add a large handful of green sage shred very small, season it with grated nutmeg, salt and pepper; mix it well, and press it down hard in an earthen pot, and keep it for use. When you use them roll them up with as much egg as will make them roll smooth, but use no flour: in rolling them up, make them the length of your finger, and as thick as two fingers: fry them in clarified suet, which must be boiling hot before you put them in. Keep them rolling about in the pan; when they are fried through, they are enough.
Adapted from E. Smith, The Compleat Housewife, London, 1758

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Pigeons in a Hole

This warm and homey dish is the precursor to “Toad in a Hole”. While “Toad in a Hole” was created first sometime in the mid 1700’s no one is sure exactly when or how it got it’s name. This dish is very like it, and, as Hannah Glasse wrote in The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy, in 1747, “It is a good dish”.

Made up of pigeons or other small game birds baked in a yorkshire pudding crust, it could also be made with chicken, or, as in classic “Toad in a Hole”, sausages. Pigeons were easily come by in Regency England, with many houses retaing a Pigeon Coop or Dovecote for the purpose of having easily caught birds close at hand. These young pigeons were called squab, when served.

During the Victorian era, “Toad in a Hole” became known as a poor person’s dish, as it was made with whatever left over scraps of meat could be purchased cheaply from the butcher. All in all, the result must have been appealing, since it was quickly adapted to the Master’s table, by supplementing the scraps for sausages (which, after all, are left over scraps of meat…) Today “Toad in a Hole” retains its popularity as a quick to make comfort food, perfect for a cold November evening.

Pigeons in a Hole
Pick, draw, and wash four young pigeons, stick their legs into their belly as you do boiled pigeons. Season them with pepper, salt, and beaten mace, put into the belly of every pigeon a lump of butter the size of a walnut. Lay your pigeons in a pie dish, pour over them a batter made of three eggs, two spoonfuls of flour and a half a pint of good milk. Bake in a moderate oven and serve them to table in the same dish.”

The Experienced English Housekeeper, Elizabeth Raffald, 1769

The basic recipe for “Toad in a Hole” couldn’t be easier– cook several sausages, place them in the bottom of your baking pan, pour a batch of Yorkshire Pudding batter over the whole thing and bake. If you’d like to follow the pigeon recipe, use small game hens or pullets. Season to taste, add a bit of butter to each and pour on the batter.

Basic Yorkshire Pudding with Sausage:

  • 6 medium sized sausagelinks
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. milk
  • 4 tbsp. oil
  1. Cook your sausages in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until cooked through.
  2. Blend flour, salt, eggs, milk together until very smooth, scraping bowl occasionally (a blender also works well for this).
  3. Heat oven to 450 degrees.
  4. Measure oil into 8 x 8 x 2 inch square Pyrex pan. Heat for 2 minutes.
  5. Add sausages to oil in bottom of pan (be careful– the oil may spit)
  6. Pour batter into pan and bake for 20-30 minutes. Do not open door. Serve immediately, with gravy if desired.

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