Scotch Eggs Inspired by Val McDermid's 'Broken Ground'

Scotch Eggs Inspired by Val McDermid's 'Broken Ground'

Wednesday, 5 February, 2020

Food and drinks are some of the easiest ways — and the most fun— to vicariously experience another culture. When you add a great book to the mix, you've got the makings of a perfect evening. In Food+Fiction, we recommend a delicious read and a related recipe so you can try the taste of different destinations in your own kitchen.

This post is part of our Food+Fiction series.


One of Melissa’s favorite genres is ‘moody, bleak murder mystery set in the UK and bonus points if there are ties to the past.’ The accents, the tweed and plaid and Wellies, the reliance on hot tea as a cure-all, the weather that’s a character in the story — they all work together to create a dark backdrop for gleefully terrible crimes.

Much-adored and respected author Val McDermid has created an extremely competent and capable investigator in her character DCI Karen Pirie. Bluster on the outside, tender on the inside, she’s the star of the thrilling procedural Broken Ground. The story travels back and forth between contemporary Edinburgh and the Highlands, where a preserved body has been found in a peat bog — with Nike sneakers on its feet and a bullet hole between its eyes. It’s down to DCI Pirie to solve the decades-old crime while sparring with the boss she openly disdains and dealing with another crime in which she may play an unwitting role. It’s suspenseful, smart, and perfectly moody.

Sometimes you want something sweet to go along with on-page murder and a nice hot cuppa — like Seed Cake or Shortbread — and sometimes you need something a bit heartier to help you weather the emotional storm of the novel.

Consider the Scotch egg.

In case you’ve never had the pleasure, a Scotch egg is a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage, rolled in bread crumbs, and deep-fried. They’re often eaten cold – perhaps in a picnic out on the moors or the heath. They were invented by the legendary London department store Fortnum & Mason, founded in 1707, and well-known for the gourmet picnic baskets it sold to Victorian high society for hoity-toity events like the Henley Regatta and Ascot Races.

In the UK, pre-packaged Scotch eggs are standard in roadside service stations, a bit like beef jerky in the United States. In India, they eat a curried version called nargisi kofta, and at the Minnesota State Fair, Scotch eggs are served on a stick. Of course.

This version is baked instead of deep-fried and uses a gluten-free coating of crushed pork rinds to add a lot of crunch. These also taste great hot out of the oven or at room temperature. We like to slice leftovers into coins and brown them in a hot skillet for breakfast. You might serve them with mango chutney, a little mayo and mustard mixed together, or a dab of HP Sauce.

tray of scotch eggs

Scotch Eggs

Serves 4-8. Prep 15 minutes. Cook 30 minutes.


  • 8 large eggs, boiled and peeled (see note below)
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried chives
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • pinch cinnamon
  • pinch cloves
  • 1 bag (2 ounces) fried pork rinds
  • 2 large eggs, raw


Prep. Preheat the oven to 375F/190C. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Season the pork. Place the ground pork in a large mixing bowl. Add parsley, garlic, chives, salt, pepper, tarragon, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. Knead with your hands until well mixed.

Shape the eggs. Divide the pork mixture into 8 equal servings. Roll each piece into a ball, then flatten it in your palm into a pancake shape. Wrap the meat around a hard-boiled egg, rolling it between your palms until the egg is evenly covered. This is much easier than it sounds. If the meat sticks to your hands, moisten them with a little water. Place the meat wrapped eggs on the baking sheet.

Add the coating. Place the pork rinds in the bowl of a food processor and process until they resemble bread crumbs; pour them onto a plate or in a shallow bowl. (Alternately, you can place them in a plastic baggie and crush with a rolling pin.) In another shallow bowl, beat the 2 raw eggs. Gently roll each meatball in pork rind crumbs; you want just a thin dusting. Then roll each meatball in the raw egg and roll a second time in the crushed pork rinds to evenly coat. Place on the baking sheet.

Bake. Slide the tray into the oven and bake for 25 minutes, then increase the temperature to 400F/205C and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until the eggs are golden brown and crisp.


Perfectly Peelable Hard-Boiled Eggs

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Use a ladle or spoon to lower the eggs into the boiling water one at a time. Reduce the heat on the pan to simmer and cook for 9 minutes. SET A TIMER! Just before the eggs are done simmering, fill a large bowl with plenty of ice and cold water. When the timer goes off, remove the eggs from the pot with a slotted spoon and lower them into the ice bath. Let them chill out for at least 15 minutes, then peel and proceed.

This recipe is from our cookbook Well Fed, and it’s packed with other easy-to-make and crazy-delicious recipes from around the world.

‘He probably hadn’t deserved what had happened to him. But he’d chosen the road that had taken him there.’ — Val McDermid

Broken Ground

by Val McDermid

Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is as well known for her sarcasm as her solve rate. When she’s on the case, she’s unstoppable. Her specialty is cold cases: ‘I believe people deserve answers. There are few things harder to live with than not knowing the fate of people we love.’ When a preserved body is uncovered in a peat bog in the Highlands, she’s sent to investigate. Each clue raises more questions than it answers. And her investigation is complicated by a would-be suitor named Hamish MacKenzie, a ‘magnificent,’ gentleman with a plaid kit and flowing locks. Naturally suspicious, she’s not sure what to make of MacKenzie or his interest in her. {more}

This police procedural (432 pages) was published in December of 2018 by Atlantic Monthly Press. The book takes you to Scottish Highlands and Edinburgh. Melissa read Broken Ground and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it. is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.

Broken Ground


Top image courtesy of Max Hermansson.

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