In a city known as Hogtown, it’s no small feat to capture broad acclaim as the best sausage maker in Toronto. Jesse Vallins, the executive chef at Maple Leaf Tavern in Leslieville, has made his reputation as someone who cooks unpretentious food fit for special occasions.
That’s a niche where good beer thrives, so no surprise that he’s also a partner at Merit Brewing, one of the cornerstones of Hamilton’s thriving upstart scene. There, the food side of the menu focuses on Vallins’s ground-and-stuffed creations like the Scotch egg recipe below.
Back at MLT, he prepares a menu of classics—with plenty of contemporary reinterpretations—fit for the old-school tavern surroundings. Other than “brass taps and oak” I can’t think of a better emblem for that type of place than his pickled egg recipe.
Vallins is a rare classically trained chef who is comfortable talking and writing about craft beer. Even more unusual he’s both a certified cicerone and a wine sommelier.
Deep-frying is easy to do at home, but be safe about it. Have a fire extinguisher on hand and either use a purpose-built deep fryer or a heavy-bottom Dutch oven with tall sides, filled no more than halfway.
Jesse Vallins’s Scotch eggs paired with Young Rival by Merit Brewing
Yes, you absolutely should make Scotch eggs at home and if you’re going to wrap a poached egg in sausage whose recipe could be better than the one by the Sultan of Sausage himself, Jesse Vallins.
- 1 kg coarsely ground pork
- 18 g kosher salt
- 2 g white pepper
- 2 g dried sage
- 0.5 g ground ginger
- 0.5 g mace, finely ground
- 0.25 g nutmeg, finely grated
- 5 g granulated onion
- 8 g maple syrup
- 75 g crushed ice
- Dozen eggs, soft poached 3-4 mins
- 600 g sausage mix
- All-purpose flour
- Egg beaten with water
- Panko breadcrumbs, for breading
- Place all sausage ingredients in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
- Mix on low until all are incorporated. Raise speed to medium-low and mix until ice is melted and everything is well emulsified.
- Portion sausage mix into 50-g balls and with wet hands, flatten to a thin, round disk shape.
- Place an egg in the middle of each sausage disk and gently form the sausage around it. Chill for an hour.
- Preheat oven to 250 F. Cook wrapped eggs on a rack-lined baking sheet until sausage reaches 155F. Cool completely.
- Set up flour, beaten egg and panko in separate pie plates or bowls. Dredge cooked eggs in that order.
- Deep-fry in batches of no more than 4 eggs at a time, in 325 F oil, until the breading is deep brown and golden and the egg is warmed through.
- Keep warm in a low oven while you fry the other batches.
Jesse Vallins’s pickled eggs
Given the rise of protein-heavy diets and our mutual obsession with putting things in jars of flavourful vinegar, I’m not sure why pickled eggs aren’t more popular. Obviously, they have a history of being stored at room temperature on the bar of every British pub circa 1972, but you have a refrigerator, right?
- 1.5 L white vinegar
- 500 ml water
- 60 g kosher salt
- 2 shallots, peeled and sliced into rings
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in half
- 20 g parsley stems
- 3 g fresh thyme (whole sprigs)
- 3 g black peppercorns, cracked
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 g crushed chili flakes
- Place all ingredients except parsley stems and thyme in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Remove the pot from the heat and add in herbs.
- Allow to cool completely.
- Place hard-boiled eggs in a sterilized jar and cover with brine.
- Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 days before eating.