It's a well worn tale but many years ago I found myself in a bar in Temple Bar, in Dublin talking to a heavy built man from Cork who had enormous hands and tight curly hair. We covered quite a wide range of subjects but seeing as pints and pints of the black stuff were flowing I can't really remember what the hell we were talking about. However, I do remember the matter of heritage being brought up as the giant from the South laid a hand on my shoulder and boomed in my ear:
"Yerra bhoy, like eh, looking at yer as I do, I'd say like you had some Irish in yer."
To which I replied, "er yeah, yeah I do *hic*....er I got ancestors that used to come from er........Lilliput."
"Lilliput??", the big man hollered, "like... what like the place with all the little people?"
Cue long pause from me as my undulating eyebrows danced about the place desperately trying to figure out the place name.
"Ah I mean Limerick *hic*, I think some of my relatives hail from Limerick."
The curly, rosy faced farmer's son patted me again on the shoulder, looked at me ruefully and squarely in the eye and said "ah stab city, it all makes sense now." And then wandered off for another round.
I often look back fondly at that exchange and regale the story to anyone who'd care to listen with or without stifling yawns but I am still puzzled to this day where the word 'Lilliput' came from. I mean it's not as though I am overtly familiar with Gulliver's Travels and any Swiftian notion of parody (although I did see the film with Ted Danson in it) so I wasn't trying to be clever or make a joke. No perhaps all it boils down to a simple longing that exists somewhere in my psyche. A wish, a dream, to be tiny and small. Seriously, I wouldn't mind eking out an existence as a Borrower. Sure it might not be fun living life on the run from the cat and having to fashion trousers from feather done and stockings out of apple rind but the rewards, oh the rewards would be great. Imagine going on your travels across the kitchen floor and coming across a crumb of stichelton, the size of a football or a slither of pata negra, the length of a blanket. Oh the joyous, bountiful feasts you could have....................................
Or maybe we should just forget about skipping through the daisies, leave this gibberish behind and concentrate on the fact that I received a mahoosive Ostrich egg a couple of weeks ago and had great fun piss balling around with it.
Now there are a couple of interesting facts about ostrich eggs in that they were revered by the Egyptians, a grown man could step up and balance atop one without it cracking and ostrich hens up lay up to 200 eye watering eggs a year but that's all heresay. By far the most interesting thing about an ostrich egg is that it's bloomin' huge and the possibilities for creating super sized meals are endless. So much so that I spent a good few days nesting over my prize egg wondering what the hell to do with it, with much conflaboration on Twitter. In the end and after some cajoling from Nick from The Drapers Arms and Linda of With Knife and Fork, I decided to go in for making a giant scotch egg. The mission was tested along the way with some folk knocking the wind out of my sails during research, all unintentionally I am sure. "You'll need 40 litres of oil!", "You'll boil yourself alive!", "You'll get a coverage of 1gr/cm3 with 2.4kgs of sausage meat" (WHAT?!) "You just need some good pork belly, pork shoulder and mix it with your shit". Yes the Twitterhive can sometimes be a little bit overwhelming at times but still I was grateful that someone mentioned Stefan Gates had a done one in his Extraordinary Cook Book. So I went with his fairly straightforward and simple recipe, being the grovelling fanboy that I am. Except I baked mine on grounds of safety, what with the fact that we often have minors wandering into the kitchen. Often at high speed. Should you ever get your hands on one of these monsters, which are now readily available in Morrisons across the land for 15 English pounds, and would like try making one of your own, here are the step by step instructions that you need to follow to make a #MegaEgg (term coined by The Grubworm).
First boil your egg for 1 and a half hours in a large stockpot. Now I know it's quite fashionable for scotch eggs to have soft yolks and all kinds of la de da but I opted for a proper hard boiled version as the prospect of a supermassiveyellowgooeyhole seemed a step too far even for me and I like runny eggs. If you want to try it soft, the packaging recommended 50 mins. After you've taken the egg out of the water and it's cooled slightly, smash it open with a hammer. Seriously, go on, whack it.
Once you've made a decent dent and wrenched off a couple of pieces, which was surprisingly tough to do, the rest of the shell then cracks open quite easily. Breathe in the eggy aroma and then dry the turgid white mass with kitchen towel and leave to cool further.
Assemble your key ingredients. 1 boiled ostrich egg, 1.5kgs of sausagemeat (good quality), 3 hen's eggs (beaten), 400gms breadcrumbs (from a mixture of odds and ends of loaves that I keep in the freezer for such use). I also crumbled some Bury black pudding into the sausagemeat, my one concession to la de da scotch eggs. First coat the egg with some of the beaten egg and leave to dry and get 'tacky'.
Then spread out your sausagemeat, using cold wet hands and plonk on top of the egg. In a rather unwieldy fashion, press the sausagemeat to the egg trying to keep it uniform which is easier said than done. I ended up wrapping the whole rugby shaped ball with cling film to manipulate the meat without getting all sticky and messy (is this sounding rude yet?). I then put the egg in the fridge to chill and set for a bit longer.
Take the egg out of the fridge and baste with the remaining egg wash and roll or carefully spread rather the breadcrumbs over the surface and underneath. Take a photo of your egg with an object like a fork in the frame for scale and punch the air, laughing to yourself like a silly schoolboy. Place the egg in a pre-heated oven at 180c and bake for approx 40-50mins.
Take the egg out of the oven and place on a pretty platter. Take another picture whilst simultaneously whistling 'U Can't Touch This' and doing the MC Hammer dance.
Cut the egg open and take even more pictures to post and boast all over the Internet and then yodel, scream and jerk your body like a horny pony would and revel in your own greatness. After coming to on the kitchen floor, get back up and try some of the scotch egg. Hopefully you'll find that it rather tastes like scotch egg, although you may also find as I did that the actual white is strangely translucent and jelly-like in texture. But no matter because you've just made a huge, mahoosive scotch egg, a Mega Egg and maybe for just once in your life you can stand there, eyes closed and finally imagine that you are Tom Thumb. With an acorn cup perched on your head at a jaunty angle.