I'm starting this post with a caveat - This is not a healthy recipe. I'm sure it was created back when tractors were just horses hooked to ploughs and the calories were necessary because a back hoe was just a hoe at the end of a burly Scottish farmer's arms. I imagine it was originally made from freshly gathered eggs and cream, the leftover bread from dinner the night before, fresh cut herbs from the garden the farmer's wife lovingly grew, and whatever cheese they'd had on hand. Don't judge me. It's my imagination and I have a deep love of my concept of the old-timey Scottish countryside. But BE WARNED - if you make this, it will totally ruin whatever diet you happen to be on. That said, this is frickin' delicious. Here's what you need:
Just so you know what all's there, it's Half a loaf of Sourdough bread, a block of sharp english cheddar cheese, a carton of eggs, a bunch of chives, a carton of half&half, and some sausage. All in the beautiful cast iron skillet that the dish will ultimately be assembled in (if you ever have to choose between using a regular, non-cast-iron pan and using a cast-iron pan, use the cast iron pan). I know that many of you don't have cast iron pans, especially if you're not over the age of 25, so a regular baking dish will also work. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Brown that sausage! (Note how the sausage is not browning in the cast-iron skillet - This is because we'll be assembling the rest of the dish as the sausage browns. Don't forget to stir the meat around every couple while you're assembling! Otherwise your sausage will burn!) I used sausage here, but you can use pretty much any breakfast meat - ham, bacon, canadian bacon, other kinds of sausage, steak? (probably not steak).
As the sausage browns, grease your pan. I rubbed the entire inside surface of my skillet with a stick of butter. Then, break up the sourdough bread into crouton-sized pieces until the bottom of the pan is well covered. (If any of you LDS readers were in the Aaronic priesthood, it's exactly the same as breaking the bread for the sacrament, but without any sacred implications. Just delicious ones)
Crack the eggs onto the bread crumbs. TRY not to break the yolks (as the above picture shows, I DID break a couple. It was delicious anyways. So breaking a yolk or two won't ruin it)
The sausage is probably brown by this point, so take it off the heat and drain the grease if you can. I didn't. I used a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage directly from one pan to the other. But that comes later.
Grate the cheese! I used about half the block.
You know those kitchen shears that photo-bombed a few of my earlier photos? They were actually out for a reason. After you've rised the chives REALLY well, use the scissors to cut them over the egg-bread mix til it's got a fairly even smattering over the face of the whole dish (YES! I got to use the word smattering in a legitimate sentence!)
Scatter that sausage evenly over the whole thing
Same with the cheese
This step gets kinda tricky. Pour the half&half slowly over the face of the dish. There's no set amount you're supposed to use, just enough that you can see it on the edge of the entire dish. If you use too little, the croutons will get too dry and the eggs will just be eggs. BUT IF YOU USE TOO MUCH the dish will be all slimy and mushy and that's way worse than too dry. trust your gut. If you overthink it you'll choke and mess up.
Bake it for fifteen to twenty minutes for runny yolks, twenty to twenty seven minutes for firm. I went for firm yolks. DON'T OPEN THE OVEN! It'll make the dish collapse and it won't be as fluffy or delicious. And you're going to want to open the oven. the smell of it cooking will drive you mad. MAD!
PULL IT OUT OF THE OVEN BEFORE IT OVERCOOKS! Careful, it's HOT! Enjoy!
This was a very large batch, because I was making it to be shared between 15 coworkers. But the beauty of the dish is that it can be scaled up or down depending on the party you're feeding, and the size of the dish/skillet you use.