Spiced Pickled Eggs and Pork Scratchings
Spiced Pickled Eggs and Pork Scratchings

Spiced Pickled Eggs and Pork Scratchings

  • Prep time:

  • Cook time:

  • Total time:

  • Portion/Yield:

    Makes 20 pickled eggs and plenty of pork scratchings (enough to serve about 20)
  • Difficulty:

    Intermediate

These two recipes are a must-have for any pub’s blackboard menu. I must say that at first the thought of pickled eggs was slightly, well, off-putting, but they are in fact delicious, so do give them a try! The challenge for me was to come up with a traditional and ultimate bar snack menu with a contemporary British Larder twist, and pickled eggs and pork scratchings are two quintessential British snacks that really complement a glass of real ale.

There is a very true saying that all good things take time to create and nurture. Well, these two recipes will certainly test your patience – and they did test mine – but they will be well worth all the effort, I can assure you! The eggs are really easy to make, but you do then have to wait 2 weeks for them to be pickled. The pork scratchings require a little more work and they also need 2 days of salting. The pickled eggs are kept in a pickling mixture that is laden with spices, so the pork scratchings had to follow suit and they also include a nice bit of spice.

I highly recommend both of these recipes and I prepare them with pride at the British Larder, but they must come with the following health warning: “Consume responsibly in small quantities as sensitive teeth might suffer, and a slightly tired heart and well-lived body might feel the strain if consumed in large, lavish quantities.” Or, if you have a life motto like mine: “Eat and enjoy, because you only live once!”photo of Spiced Pickled Eggs and Pork Scratchingsphoto of Spiced Pickled Eggs and Pork Scratchingsphoto of Spiced Pickled Eggs and Pork Scratchings

Ingredients & Method

For the spiced pickled eggs

  • 2 litres cider vinegar (preferably Aspall organic cyder vinegar)
  • 15g black peppercorns
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried chillies
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, lightly toasted
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, lightly toasted
  • 20 eggs

For the pork scratchings

  • 2kg pork (pig’s) skin, with as much fat removed as possible (see Cook’s Notes)
  • 2 star anise
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 100g coarse sea salt
  • 100g coarse sea salt
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • sea salt, for dipping

For the pickled eggs, sterilise a very large glass jar (or 2 or 3 smaller jars) with a tight-fitting lid. Pour the cider vinegar into a saucepan, add all the spices and bring to the boil over a high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a separate large pan of water to a rapid boil, carefully place the eggs into the boiling water, then bring back to the boil and boil for 9 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain, then immediately place the eggs in a bowl of iced water to cool them quickly. Drain, then peel the eggs. Place the cold hard-boiled eggs into the sterilised jar, then pour the slightly cooled pickling liquid over the eggs, ensuring the eggs are completely covered with the vinegar mixture. Cover, seal and cool, then refrigerate for 2 weeks before serving. To serve, simply remove the eggs from the pickling liquor and drain. Once opened, keep the jar of pickled eggs in the fridge and use the eggs within 1 month.

For the pork scratchings, start by removing as many hairs as possible from the pork skin by carefully using a sharp razor blade or a very sharp knife (alternatively, briefly singe the hairs using a chef’s blowtorch, then use a sharp knife to scrape the singed hairs off).

Grind the star anise, peppercorns and coriander seeds together using a pestle and mortar, then rub this mixture into the pork skin on both sides.

Spread half of the coarse salt in a layer over a deep white plastic tray (or a large ceramic lasagne dish), put the bay leaves on top, then lay the pork skin on top and cover with the remaining coarse salt. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 2 days.

After 2 days, wash the salt off the pork skin, then pat dry and place it on a large baking tray. Boil a kettleful of water and pour this over the skin. Leave for 5 minutes, then remove the pork skin from the water, pat it dry and then lay it out on a clean white plastic tray (or a large ceramic lasagne dish). Place, uncovered, in the fridge and leave overnight. The following day, pat the pork skin dry with kitchen paper.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Place the pork skin on a wire rack positioned over a roasting tin. Dip the lemon halves in sea salt, then rub them all over the pork skin. Cook the pork skin in the oven for 30 minutes, then carefully remove it from the oven, turn it over and use a spoon to scrape away and discard any obvious bits of fat (this fat can also be reserved and used for roast potatoes, if you like – see below and Cook’s Notes).

Return the pork skin to the oven and cook for a further 20–30 minutes or until it is golden brown and crisp all over – keep a close eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn. Remove from the oven and test the pork skin to see if it’s crispy – the fat should have rendered and dripped into the roasting tin (use the fat to make delicious roast potatoes – see Cook’s Notes).

Leave the pork skin to cool completely, then use a sharp knife to cut it into bite-sized pieces or simply snap it into small pieces using your hands, and enjoy! Store the pork scratchings in an airtight container in a cool, dry cupboard for up to 5 days.

Cook’s Notes

Pork or pig’s skin is available from many butchers – ask your butcher in advance to keep the pork skin for you and they should happily put it to one side for you to collect.

Transfer the rendered fat to a sealed jar or a covered container and leave to cool, then store in the fridge and use within 3 days. As well as roast potatoes, the rendered fat can be used to fry eggs for breakfast.

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