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The Great Full English Breakfast

Updated on October 22, 2014

A Great English Breakfast

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The Full English Breakfast - A Great and Delicious Meal

Our full English breakfast is one meal that most people around the world agree we English do well, even though English cooking has had a terrible reputation in other countries in spite of the many great Michelin starred restaurants here now.

Most of us natives would agree the English breakfast is not healthy meal. It's full of fat and calories, to put it mildly. Here, it's jokingly referred to as 'a heart attack on a plate' - that's our sick English humour.

Oh, but it is delicious and a great way to start a day occasionally, especially after a luxurious lie in bed late on a day there's no rush to go out.

Another version of the Full English Breakfast
Another version of the Full English Breakfast | Source

What Makes a Full English Breakfast - You Choose Your Own Breakfast Ingredients

This is a typical full English breakfast although the different components do vary, depending on what's available and what the cook likes. The full English breakfast includes some of the following:

Eggs, fried, poached or scrambled

Bacon, fried or grilled

Sausages, fried or grilled

Mushrooms, fried

Tomatoes, fried (sometimes canned tomatoes are used instead).

Black pudding, fried.

Baked beans

Fried bread, or toast

Hash browns or fried leftover potatoes

If you were staying in a hotel or bed and breakfast (B&B) that provided a full English breakfast, you would probably start with fruit juice or cereal, then you'd eat the English breakfast followed by toast and marmalade. All this is washed down with copious cups of tea or coffee.

It is a very small minority who eat this kind of breakfast regularly. It is high in cholesterol and calories and, unsurprisingly, not recommended by nutritionists.

Most English people love this kind of breakfast, sometimes referred to as a 'fry up'. It's comfort food for us and a special but rare treat.

Scrambled Eggs
Scrambled Eggs | Source

Choosing and Cooking Breakfast Eggs

Cook Your Breakfast Eggs Perfectly

In an English breakfast, you can have your eggs fried, poached or scrambled.

Personally, I always buy free range eggs because I hate the thought of hens kept in very confined conditions and just being egg-laying machines. Here in England, lots of people swear that brown eggs are better than white but I've never noticed any difference so I will use either colour. Ideally, if you keep your eggs in the refrigerator, you should take them out at least an hour before you plan to cook them.

Fried Eggs

When I cook fried eggs, I get the oil or fat hot but not smoking. If the oil is too hot, the eggs end up with an unpleasant brown skin on the bottom and the white splutters and has holes in it - not nice. I fry them on a medium to high heat, I want them to cook quickly. When I put them in the pan, I leave them to set for a minute or so. As the white firms up, I use an egg slice to splash oil over them to set the white on top. I always splash over the yolk so the thin coating of egg white there, also sets. I stop as soon as it turns white before the yolk sets. I hate hard yolks. If I'm cooking for my mother, I turn the egg over and squash it - she hates runny yolks.

Scrambled Eggs

I use two or three eggs per person, depending on their appetite, break them all into a bowl and add a little milk, salt and pepper. Then I beat well. I melt a knob of butter in a pan, again the amount depends how many eggs are being scrambled but less is better than too much otherwise they can be too greasy. I pour in the egg mixture, leave it for about 30 seconds to begin to set on a medium heat. Then I use a wooden spoon to stir the egg from the sides and bottom of the pan. If it is setting too quickly for you, turn the heat down. Keep stirring until it's nearly set but still a little runny because it will continue to cook - remove from the heat.

Poached Eggs

Break each egg you are using into a separate cup or small dish.

Use about 3 to 4 inches deep water in a pan, bring to the boil, then turn down so its just simmering. At this point you can add a teaspoon of white vinegar to the water which should help the egg hold its shape. To put each egg in the water, one by one, take each cup or dish and get as close to the surface of the water as you can without getting burned. Slowly slip the egg into the water. Doing it like this, you are less likely to end up with egg white dispersed through the water. A softly poached egg (with a soft, runny yolk) should take about 3 minutes. The egg white on the yolk should have just set. Cook longer if anybody wants a hard yolk.

Sunpentown BM-1107 Stainless-Steel 3-in-1 Breakfast Maker
Sunpentown BM-1107 Stainless-Steel 3-in-1 Breakfast Maker

This device toaster has an oven, frying pan and coffee maker - everything you need to make breakfast.

 

Breakfast Maker - Great for Students - Or other people with restricted cooking facilities or space

No space or stove for cooking, well, take a look at this breakfast maker.

It is compact measuring just 8 x 9.5 x 15.5 inches but has everything you need to make breakfast and some other meals too.

A Posh Version of A Full English Breakfast

Here's a very up-market version of a full English breakfast served in the very posh Mayfair restaurant, Pollen Street Social, London
Here's a very up-market version of a full English breakfast served in the very posh Mayfair restaurant, Pollen Street Social, London | Source

Cooking Everything Else - Like Bacon, Mushrooms, Black Pudding, Tomatoes...

A full English breakfast definitely has the emphasis on the word 'full'. There should be a good selection on the plate and almost everything, except the baked beans, are either fried or grilled (broiled).

The baked beans, if you choose to have them, are the easiest, put them in a pan and bring to the boil or pop them in the microwave and heat them.

Pork sausages are usually the preferred ones here in England. They can be used with or without black pudding. This might be a bit of an acquired taste. Black pudding is made with pig's blood, chopped pig's fat and seasoning. It sounds horrible but is, in fact, delicious. The really good black pudding comes from butchers who make it themselves and generally is made in oval rings. It's sliced into pieces about one inch thick to cook.

Fried Crispy bacon
Fried Crispy bacon | Source

Bacon comes in rashers (slices) and is either smoked or unsmoked also called 'green'. Smoked bacon usually has a saltier taste than green bacon.

All of these components of the English breakfast can be fried. Sausages should be cooked all the way through, taking about 10 minutes and they should be turned so that they are browned all the way round. Slices of black pudding are fried on both sides just long enough to seal and heat them through. Rashers of bacon are fried according to preference. Some people like them so lightly cooked, they almost squeal when you stick a fork in them while others like them cooked till they are crisp.

If you choose to grill (broil) them instead, the same rules for cooking apply. Sausages take the longest and should be turned regularly, while black pudding only takes a short time to grill both sides and bacon depends on how you like it.

Tomatoes are sliced in half and either fried or grilled until completely cooked. Mushrooms may be fried or cooked in the microwave, a healthier option, by putting them in a dish with a little butter and seasoning, and covering with film which is pierced.

Potato Cakes

Delicious potato cakes, great with a full English breakfast
Delicious potato cakes, great with a full English breakfast | Source

Potatoes for Breakfast

Some Traditional Ways to Cook Potatoes for Breakfast

Yes, potatoes can be part of the great, full English breakfast.

Traditionally, leftover cold, boiled potatoes are cut into to 1/2 to 1 inch cubes and fried in fat or oil until they are hot and golden brown. I have to say, they are sublimely delicious when dipped in egg yolk.

Maybe you have some mashed potato left over. You can form it into flat cakes about 1/2 to one inch thick and fry them on both sides until golden brown (see picture on right). Again, they go perfectly with a full English breakfast.

If you don't have leftover potato of any kind, you can use frozen croquettes or hash browns and cook according to the instructions.

High Speed English Breakfast - Watch this food disappear!

This is a particularly large English breakfast and it's eaten at high speed. Don't worry, though, you don't have to eat as much as this nor do you have to eat breakfast in England so fast!

This version of the English breakfast has fried bread on the right hand side of the plate.
This version of the English breakfast has fried bread on the right hand side of the plate. | Source

Toast or Fried Bread

Fried Bread is Lovely But Not Healthy!

"What?" I hear you shriek, "You have bread with this mountain of food?" Fans of the English breakfast would tell you not to be a wimp.

Traditionally, slices of bread would be fried in bacon fat to eat with the breakfast. Take a look at the beautifully fried bread on the right. It's a lovely, even golden brown. This too is delicious with an English breakfast but, my goodness, talk about a cholesterol and calorie overload.

Perhaps we'd better be sensible. We could just have toast instead. If you don't want to eat it alongside the breakfast, you can save it till you've finished and eat it spread with jam or marmalade as a sweet end to the meal.

All day breakfast available at this London workman's café
All day breakfast available at this London workman's café | Source

Seriously, Folks... You Don't Want to Eat This Breakfast Daily!

As I said at the beginning, this breakfast is called 'a heart attack on a plate' and that really is no exaggeration. This is not food most of us eat every day here in England. In fact we probably don't have it once a week or even once a month. It is a very occasional treat. Sometimes we have it for a late breakfast, sometimes as lunch or even dinner.

It's lovely to eat very occasionally especially if someone else is doing the cooking. Here in England, we have it if we stay in a hotel or B&B or we eat it in small cafes (sometimes called greasy spoons) where everything is fried and the full English breakfast regularly appears on the menus, served with chips if you choose. You see them advertising 'All Day Breakfasts' - see picture.

I probably haven't had a breakfast like this for about two years and would think hard before deciding to have one because of the high cholesterol load. If you have a cardiovascular problem - don't risk it. Just sit and smell the breakfast being eaten by someone else.

How Often Do You Eat a Full English Breakfast?

How often do you eat a full English breakfast?

See results

© 2009 Carol Fisher

What's Your Favourite Breakfast?

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    • Stazjia profile image
      Author

      Carol Fisher 5 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      @Pete Schultz: This is where we hit a language barrier. I've never heard of "biscuits tope with sausage grave" although I think what you call biscuits are similar to our scones but tope - no idea. :)

    • profile image

      Pete Schultz 5 years ago

      I've been enjoying reading your lenses, and the ones I've been reading are making me hungry. We Americans often eat a similar breakfast to those described here. You have not described my favorite though, which would be biscuits tope with sausage grave and poached eggs served with hash browns, orange juice and coffee. At any rate, thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      aquarian_insight 5 years ago

      It is the breakfast of champions! I do love a full English every now and then. Great lens and you've made me hungry now!

    • JohnTannahill profile image

      John Tannahill 5 years ago from Somewhere in England

      This is for the last thing I ate lens - quite a coincidence - I eat a fry up less than once a month - but it's a bank holiday. Now it's time for dinner.

    • CottageHomestead profile image

      CottageHomestead 5 years ago

      I thoroughly enjoyed this lens. I have never had an English breakfast, I live in the US. I thought it was very interesting to have baked beans for breakfast something we usually have for dinner. But I would love to try this!!!

    • profile image

      Edutopia 5 years ago

      Heart attack on a plate or Flavor explosion on a plate? A full English breakfast looks delicious and would fit in on any breakfast table the world over.

    • dogface lm profile image

      dogface lm 6 years ago

      Looks so delicious! :) I don't eat breakfasts at all.

    • debnet profile image

      Debbie 6 years ago from England

      Blessed by a Squid Angel ;)

    • Michelle1959 profile image

      Michelle1959 6 years ago

      I always rated the English breakfast as No.1. After a severe operation and related allergies I'd do battle to finish half of it. Still love it though! In honesty it's now a "skottel breafast" as termed in S.A. The bacon and sausages are cooked firstly in the middle over higher heat, then onions, mushrooms and tomatoes added - lastly the eggs - and even that's huge, I at least get to pick what I know is sufficient. English potato mixes would be too heavy unfortunatlely. Great lens - love it thanks!

    • LadyFlashman profile image

      LadyFlashman 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Ooh a tasty lens! My favourite breakfast is American though, hash browns, pancakes, bacon, eggs, biscuits and gravy....yummu!

    • Jen Maskill profile image

      Jen Maskill 6 years ago

      Fab lens. Now I want Breakfast! LOL Thanks :)

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 6 years ago from So Cal

      I found this and blessed it. Then I showed it to my husband who wanted me to bless it again. The man lives to eat and this is right up his alley. Great pictures, great info. Well done! Liking this on facebook to so friends and family know what to feed him for breakfast when we visit.

    • Stazjia profile image
      Author

      Carol Fisher 6 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      @Ann Hinds: Thank you so much for the blessing and for liking it on Facebook too. I really appreciate that. I hope your friends and family take the hint when you visit them next.

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 7 years ago

      I could do with this right now in the atrocious weather but have to go on a course. Blessed by an Angel.

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 8 years ago from Minnesota

      Yummy lens! I remember breakfasts like this when I was a child in Belfast. We called it "fry". Now my favorite breakfast is vanilla yogurt with fresh fruit and granola. Every once in a while, though, this would hit the spot! 5*s and lensrolling to my Taste of Yorkshire lens.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 8 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Even though I grew up in Scotland our breakfasts were pretty much like this (on occasion)! And when we visited Loch Ness a few years ago the hotel served these breakfasts, except you could get haggis instead of black pudding if you liked!

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      What no kippers? But now I know what a Full English Breakfast is. (Oh my goodness). Please tell me that this hearty start to the day is reserved for special occasions such as when snowed in and the oil heater is out of action. I'm sure anybody could survive in sub zero temperatures wearing only a light frock if a Full English Breakfast had been tucked away earlier. Doubtless the custom originated from incidents of this nature. A blessing (/my-angel-blessings) for an excellent lens. Your usual first class quality.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 8 years ago

      I like a light breakfast... vanilla yogurt with nuts or fresh juice. Wonderful lens, though! Squid Angel Blessings to you.

    • cjsysreform profile image

      cjsysreform 8 years ago

      My favorite breakfast is probably eggs (scrambled or poached) cooked with fresh dill. Sometimes I also put a little rosemary in my scrambled eggs. I like to serve them with rye toast, and sliced new potatoes which I brush with oil and bake in the oven.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 8 years ago from Canada

      Welcome to the Culinary Favorites From A to Z group. Your lens is being featured under 'B is for Breakfast.' Don’t forget to come back and add your lens to the link list so that it will appear on the group page!

    • kateloving profile image

      Kate Loving Shenk 8 years ago from Lancaster PA

      Great lens! Did people ever eat a breakfast like this everyday??

      Faved and high fived!!

    • kateloving profile image

      Kate Loving Shenk 8 years ago from Lancaster PA

      Great lens! Did people ever eat a breakfast like this everyday??

      Faved and high fived!!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 8 years ago from Canada

      Beautifully done & blessed by an Angel. We had breakfasts like this at a B&B in the Cotswolds. You've made me want to go back!

      Don’t forget to submit your great recipe to the Culinary Favorites From A to Z group! The group is quickly closing on the 1,000th lens!

      Brenda

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 8 years ago

      Beautiful, I used to have something similar ( not all the stuff ) everyday of my life back on the farm. Now perhaps once every two weeks, whatever is the world coming to? Beautiful quotes Carol.

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 8 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      I could never eat all that. Blessings from a squid angel. :)

    • ctavias0ffering1 profile image

      ctavias0ffering1 8 years ago

      How can something which tastes so good look so disgusting LOL 5* and pass the ketchup please