I thought I might get a break from cooking over Christmas – which I spent in France with my family – but I just couldn’t help it. Firstly, I think if you have the love, passion and need to cook you just can’t help yourself. Secondly, in south west France the produce is so good it’s just too tempting to buy most of the shop and take it back to the kitchen for some fun!
We stuck to an almost traditional Christmas lunch on Christmas day, with duck as our main meat, served along with pigs in blankets, stuffing wrapped in bacon, Brussels sprouts, roast potatoes… the usual trimmings. So by the day after Boxing Day I was ready to use up the left overs in something delicious – that could also serve as a picnic for the long drive back to London.
So I used the left over sprouts with onions and potatoes to make bubble and squeak patties that are not too dissimilar from farçou, a local street food that is sold at markets. We also had some eggs – too fragile for the long car ride home – and sausage meat – wouldn’t make the long journey without spoiling – and so I decided to do my own take on scotch eggs. While I didn’t have any breadcrumbs (all the spare bread went to feed the local donkeys!) I did have some streaky bacon left. So I wrapped my scotch eggs in bacon. And I was delighted with what I created, which turned out to be perfect picnic food!
While I’m sharing my recipes with you, I would urge you to have a go at these yourself but adapt the recipes to use up whatever leftover food you have. Be creative, include flavours you like, take advantage of what’s on offer in your local shops and use up what you have in your fridge. You never know you may discover a new favourite recipe!
Bubble and squeak farçou
12 cooked Brussels sprouts
8 small potatoes, mashed
One onion, chopped
One egg, beaten
A splash of milk
Garlic, finely chopped or crushed
Salt and pepper to taste
Brown the onions in a frying pan, using a small piece of butter. Half the already cooked sprouts and add to the pan, stirring together. Add to the mashed potato, adding the egg, a splash of milk, the garlic and salt and pepper, and mix together. Make sure you already have the flour set aside on a plate, as the next step will see you get very sticky hands! Take a ball of the mixture and flatten it to create a patty, then cover in flour on both sides and set aside. Once you have used all the mixture fry the patties in a pan of hot butter until golden brown. I especially like these farçou fresh from the pan with a soft boiled or poached egg. Delicious!
Bacon-wrapped scotch eggs
Three eggs, soft-boiled
Nine slices of streaky bacon
I always use the same fool-proof method to soft-boil eggs. Place your eggs in a pan and cover with boiling water and put on full heat. From the time the water is properly boiling, not simmering, start the timer for four minutes. When the timer finishes empty the water and cover with cold water. Replace the water again and shell the eggs in the water (this will leave your eggs totally clean of shell).
Now split your sausage meat into three pieces. Roll out one piece of sausage meat between two pieces of baking paper (or using the paper the meat came in, if you’ve bought it from your local butcher). Wrap the disc of sausage meat around one egg, ensuring it’s covered fully. Then wrap in three pieces of streaky bacon, covering a different side each time. Secure with a cocktail stick or two. Once you’ve done all three eggs fry them in a pan of hot butter or oil, turning frequently until all sides are cooked.