Saturday, October 24, 2015

Scotch Woodcock

The CC has long maintained that if one wants to have an appreciation for English food, one must look to the period before the Great War (World War I) which destroyed the aristocracy.

Here's a very old recipe with a strange name. However, it's perfectly at ease today in the age of umami even if the 19th century lords wouldn't have heard of the word or the concept.

The recipe is truly spectacular at many many different levels. It's umami-laden which makes it irresistible; it's nutritious and attractive to look it, it has a variety of textures that makes eating it a sheer delight and it's breakfast!

Like all aristocratic recipes, it's a little bit time-consuming (although not as much as you think thanks to modern-day devices and conveniences.)

What is it?

It's excellent bread (or sometimes toast) that's lavishly spread with anchovy butter on which are piled soft scrambled eggs (made with cream) on which are piled more anchovies and assorted herbs.

It's relatively free-form when it comes to the herbs. English cooking was fairly easy-going with the herbs even back in the day. It could be chives or parsley or even salted capers. Seasonality and all that.

What really makes the clock tick, as they say, is the anchovies. The umami is the rock star and for that you must make the anchovy butter but it's straightforward with a mortar and pestle and a refrigerator — spare some pity for the poor sod that had to churn the mixture with ice to get it "to set" before refrigeration.

The CC's favorite part is that the anchovy butter is called "Gentleman's Relish". Now there's a term the CC could get behind.


Anchovy Butter

4 anchovies
8 tbsp butter

Scrambled Eggs (per serving)

2 eggs
2 tbsp cream

Misc (per serving)

1 slice rye bread
1 anchovy (neatly separated into two fillets)
minced herbs (parsley OR chives OR capers)


Note: This recipe is quite salty from the anchovies. Don't add too much salt in the eggs.

Anchovy Butter

First, make the butter. This is best done ahead of time. Pull the butter out of the fridge and let it soften. Fillet the anchovies, wash to get rid of the extra salt and pound to a paste. When the butter is softened, whip it with a fork till soft (called: "creaming the butter") and fold the anchovy paste in to make a compound butter.

You can take this and make a torchon with some plastic wrap if you want to get fancy, or just put it in a ramekin, cover it with some wrap and place it in the fridge.

This is best done ahead of time. This stuff lasts a long time even though the CC will personally assure you that you will plow through it in no time.

Scrambled Eggs

For the scrambled eggs, mix the eggs with the cream, salt and pepper. Scramble them over high heat so that the curds are relatively large and dry. (This is in distinct difference to the French-style of scrambling eggs which is over low heat where the eggs are soft and creamy and have almost no curds.)

Set aside.


Spread anchovy butter over the bread. Pile some of the scrambled eggs on top of it. Put two of the half-anchovy fillets in an X over them. Sprinkle with the herbs and serve.


Mark T. Kennedy said...

how many have tasted this? and their opinions?

ShockingSchadenfreude said...

Two people. There was none left. Savages!