British Bites: Scotch Woodcock (Creamy Scrambled Eggs on Toast with Anchovies)

British Bites

Classic British dishes updated for the modern American cook.


[Photograph: Sydney Oland]



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Of all the words I could use to describe British food, simplicity would probably be the first. Scotch woodcock, a dish of soft scrambled eggs on toast topped with anchovies, is simplicity at its finest. And in the grand tradition of British dishes with funny names (welsh rarebit, salmagundi, cawl cennin) this dish uses no actual woodcock.

The thing that makes this dish a favorite for many is the soft eggs. Most of us think of scrambled eggs as a quick breakfast that can be made in just a couple minutes. This version of scrambled eggs is cooked over low heat for a longer amount of time to ensure that the final texture of the eggs is custardy-soft. And is in my mind essential to making a great spatch woodcock.

Many versions of this dish use Gentlemen's Relish, which if you have at your disposal, makes a good substituteā€”although there's something about the texture of the anchovies that makes scotch woodcock a breakfast (or lunch) that I keep coming back to.