Scotch Woodcock

By all indications, I am a morning person. During the work week, I get up at 4:30 am and find myself in the office by 6:30 in the morning, often before many of my co-worker’s alarms have gone off. On the weekend, I consider sleeping in until 8am to be a luxury.

The truth is, I hate the morning hours. My preference for the early wake up call is that it is still dark enough outside that I can consider myself a night person. And as anyone who works early hours can tell you, the time you wake up on days off is dictated by the hours you have to wake up during the work week. I’d love to sleep in until noon on Saturday and Sunday, but responsibilities to my job prevent me from doing so.

Consequently, I hate morning people. Part of this is undoubtedly because I feel as if I am one of them, and I despise being as such. Morning people are friendly. Morning people unbearably cheerful. Worst of all, morning people can do accomplish amazing tasks whilst I have problems uttering the phrase “Good Morning! I hope you are well” . Often when I try to say this phrase, it clumsily comes out as “Get the hell out of my office, you cheerful twit!”

I say this mostly to explain the picture above. It is an okay picture. It is utilitarian in that it shows my version of Scotch Woodcock, a splendid breakfast treat which is essentially scrambled eggs on toast with a bit of anchovy here and there. When I found the recipe in Kay Shaw Nelson’s book The Scotch-Irish Pub and Hearth Cookbook, I knew that I wanted to make it. Unlike most Americans, I am not fearful of anchovies, and in fact can be considered a great fan of the product, even when its presented in the heavily oiled tins in the supermarkets. Anchovies make many foods taste better.

When I made the dish at 9 am one morning, I did not feel like making it pretty. I did not feel like taking several minutes to set up the camera to get the shot just right. What I wanted was to eat the eggs before they got cold. Being nine o’clock in the morning, that is exactly what I did.

As with any dish served on bread, the better the bread, the better the dish.

  • 4 Sliced white bread, toasted
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 6 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup light cream (Half and Half will do in a pinch)
  • 2 pinches of cayenne pepper
  • Ground Pepper, to taste
  • 1/6 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 8 strips of anchovies
  • capers, for garnish

Butter each slice of toasted bread, and then spread 1/2 teaspoon of anchovy paste upon each slice. Place in a heated oven (approx 150 degrees F) to keep warm.

In a bowl, mix together eggs, cream, cayenne pepper, and ground pepper. In a medium sized skillet, melt 2 Tablespoons of butter. Add eggs and cook, stirring frequently. Remove the skillet from heat when the eggs are thickened, but still moist (about 5 minutes). Mix in parsley.

Spoon eggs over the toast and top with the anchovy strips (2 per slice of bread) Garnish with capers, as if the anchovies were the blades of swords and the capers were the hilts (or the anchovies were dancers legs, and the capers were toes, if you find that imagery more pleasing).

Serves 4