Scotch Woodcock (Creamy Scrambled Eggs and Anchovies on Toast) Recipe

Sydney Oland

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 substitute—although there's something about the texture of the anchovies that makes scotch woodcock a breakfast (or lunch) that I keep coming back to.

Recipe Facts

Active: 15 mins
Total: 15 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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  • 8 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cream
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon butter
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 8 slices bread (crust removed if desired), toasted
  • 12 anchovies, sliced in half
  • Sliced chives, to garnish


  1. Whisk together eggs and cream. Heat butter in a large non stick skillet over medium low heat. Once butter has melted, add the eggs and turn the heat to low. Using a rubber spatula, constantly stir the eggs until they have just set. They should have a loose, custardy texture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  2. Divide eggs between toast, then top each piece with three pieces of anchovy. Garnish with chives if desired and serve immediately.

Special equipment

large non stick skillet