I first came across this recipe at Epicurious but a little research suggests that it is in fact a fairly traditional Scottish egg dish. You will note that many of the quantities are a bit vague, and there are a number of choices. It is that kind of a dish – use what you have and what you like.
I didn’t try to shoe-horn it into the instructions, but you could also replace the bacon with 100 grams (4 ounces) moderately fatty breakfast sausage; crumble it up before cooking and treat it in the same way as the bacon. Or you could instead use ham, sautéed in a little fat, just enough to keep the ham from sticking and to grease the pan. Keep in mind, though; they’re pretty rich even without any meat added.
This can be made all year, but the herbs are not always available. If they are not, they can be replaced with a couple of shallots, peeled and minced, and cooked in the butter. You may then wish to add a sprinkling of some dried but green herb over the top for a bit of colour.
30 to 55 minutes – 10 minutes prep time
1 teaspoon butter OR 4 slices bacon, OPTIONAL
1 1/2 to 2 cups finely cubed stale bread
80 grams old Cheddar or other strong, hard cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped chives or green onions
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley (if available)
4 large egg, chicken or duck
a sprinkle of Cayenne or paprika
freshly ground black pepper to taste
about 3/4 cup 10% cream
Use a cast iron skillet or other shallow baking dish that can go into the oven, and also on the stovetop if using the meat. Preheat the oven to 375°F. If not using any meat, butter the dish well.
If you wish to add bacon, etc, chop it fairly finely and cook it in the pan over medium-high heat until about half cooked. Drain off any excess fat but leave enough to coat the pan well.
Slice or crumble up the bread into small cubes or crumbs. Spread two-thirds of them in the pan, mixing in the meat if it is being used. Grate the cheese and sprinkle half of it over the crumbs. Wash, dry, and mince the herbs finely, and sprinkle half of them over the crumbs. Break the eggs into the dish, spacing them evenly.
Sprinkle the remaining crumbs over the eggs. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and herbs. Season with salt and Cayenne, or any good paprika. I think a smoked one would be very good. If not using Cayenne, you may wish to add a little black pepper.
Gently dribble cream all over the dish, paying especial attention to the crumbs around the edge but getting them as evenly soaked as you can. The crumbs should all be moistened, and they should be sitting in a discernible puddle. The goal is to keep the crumbs moist but not soggy, and allow the tops to crisp up and brown in baking, so the exact amount of cream will vary with the depth of the dish and the absorptive abilities of the bread.
Bake the eggs for 20 to 30 minutes. Twenty minutes will give you firm whites but very soft runny yolks. Forty minutes should cook them to Mr. Ferdzy’s taste; bone dry. I do not recommend but it’s your funeral.
Last year at this time I made Aloo Mattar Chowder.