- Food and Cooking
The Great Full English Breakfast
A Great English Breakfast
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.
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
Tomatoes, fried (sometimes canned tomatoes are used instead).
Black pudding, fried.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
© 2009 Carol Fisher