Apparently Boxers British Pub in New York City is gone now. According to an internet search, the only place in New York called Boxers these days is a gay sports bar. The place I used to go to with that name had a somewhat different theme.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Boxers was a cool British pub in lower Manhattan, not far from my old apartment. It had the requisite old world charm, a wide selection of heavy ales, and crowd of regular old blokes who were happy to explain that Beefeater was the standard by which all gins were measured. It also had some interesting little quirks, like hard boiled eggs on the bar as freebie snacks, instead of nuts or chips. I had never heard of eggs as a bar snack, but I quickly learned that they make a good pairing with a pint or two …. or seven.
That’s probably was prompted me to try another snack off their appetizer menu, Scotch Eggs. If you’ve never had them before, you’ve been missing out. Hard boiled eggs, wrapped in a layer of pork sausage, and then breaded & deep fried. I know it sounds like a breakfast dish, but it goes really well with beer. Ever since those days at Boxers, I’d order them whenever I saw them on the menu in any of the multitude of pubs I’ve visited.
Now it’s not like I’m the type to frequent such establishments. Heaven forbid. But someone has to look after my buddy Jim, who has a habit of tipping a pint or two, telling a tall tale or two, starting a fight or two, and picking up a transvestite hooker or two. If it was up to me, I’d be at bible study, or pottery class, or whatever the fuck it is that people who don’t drink do with their time.
It seems I’ve once again ventured into one of my digressions. I really must stop that.
The point is that, just about anywhere you get Scotch Eggs, they are made with hard boiled eggs. However, when a Brit friend of mine made me some of his homemade Scotch Eggs, he soft boiled them. This added a great new dimension. Suddenly this crispy, meaty item had a soft custardy center, and of course, there aren’t many foods out there that deliver more richness than egg yolk. That combination of textures makes for a bar food grand-slam.
When the idea struck me to make a seafood version of Scotch Eggs, using crab meat instead of sausage, I knew right away this would be a great dish. Essentially, it would be a deep fried crab cake with a soft boiled egg in the center. What could go wrong with that? Assuming, of course, that I could make the whole thing work structurally. It took a couple tries to get it the way I wanted. I had to find the right boiling time for the eggs to make the yolks soft, but not too runny. Plus, the crab mixture had to hold together around the egg, but not be too dry or gummy. But figuring out things like that are why you pay me the big bucks.
Normally when I make a crab cake mixture, I’m all about keeping the lumps of crab together. In this case, you need to break up the crab more, and dice the vegetables a lot finer. Larger pieces of anything in this mix will make coating the eggs a pain in the ass.
- 8 0z crabmeat
- 3 Tbs mayonaise
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 Tbs minced onion
- 2 Tbs minced red bell pepper
- 1 Tbs chopped Italian parsley
- 1 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/2 Tbs all purpose flour
- 6 large eggs
- 1 tsp baking soda
Combine the first 10 ingredients in a bowl, and mix well. Refrigerate the crab mixture until needed.
Fill a medium sauce pot with water to 1 1/2 – 2 inches deep. Place it over high heat and bring it to a full boil. Add the baking soda to the water, and then gently lower the eggs in with a slotted spoon.
Boil the eggs for seven minutes. Immediately transfer them into a bowl of ice water. Allow them to chill for 2 or 3 minutes, then carefully peel them. Remember, soft boiled eggs can be fragile, so handle them gently.
Start heating up your frying oil. As with the Fish & Chips recipe, you need to make sure you use a pot with high sides, so that the oil doesn’t boil over. Also, I strongly recommend using a candy/oil thermometer. It’s the best way to be sure you are frying at the right temperature. You want two inches of oil in the pot. Put it over high heat, and bring it up to 350 degrees.
OK, time to assemble. Don’t worry, it’s not really all that hard.
First, set up your breading station. In addition to the eggs and the crab mixture, you’ll want a small bowl containing the 1/2 cup of flour, another bowl with the beaten eggs, a third bowl with 3/4 cup of cornflake crumbs, and finally a plate with the remaining 1/4 cup of crumbs spread out on it. I know, that’s a lot of dishes. Trust me, it’s worth the extra dish washing.
Take about 1/4 cup of the crab mix and pat it out in a thin layer on one of you hands. It should pretty much cover your hand, and not be more than 1/4 of an inch thick. Place one of the eggs in your crab covered hand, and gently close your hand around the egg, wrapping it in the crab. You’ll need to do a little pushing and pinching to cover the egg completely and evenly.
Now roll the crab covered egg in the flour, covering it completely. Pat off any excess, then dip it into the raw egg. After that roll it in cornflake crumbs, again making sure it’s completely coated. Then set it on the plate of cornflake crumbs.
When you set freshly breaded items against a non-porous surface, like a plate, they tend to get damp spots in the coating. When that happens, it will fry up unevenly, and the breading tends burn on that damp spot. Setting the eggs on a plate of crumbs prevents that from happening.
Once the eggs are prepped, fry them two at a time in the 350 degree oil. I found that three minutes frying time worked perfectly for me.
OK, I know all that may seem a little complicated. However, I put together a little video that demonstrates the process perhaps better than my clumsy prose does. Give it a look, and see that making these really isn’t all that hard.
Say! Who was that suave, smooth gentleman?
Are you ready? Because I believe it’s time to fry up some Scotch Eggs and enjoy a cold pint.
You want to relax now because Spring is here, and that means shrimping, Spring salmon, and ling cod!