There are several anomalies when most people consider the fried breakfast which still remains moderately popular in the UK. The full English breakfast is how most people in England and from outside the UK who are aware of the concept would be likely to refer to the dish but the reality is very different. There are actually four distinct regional variations of the British fried breakfast, as well as many more potential combinations in terms of the sundry ingredients which are or are not often included. As well as the full English breakfast, there is the full Scottish breakfast, the full Welsh breakfast and the Ulster Fry, which is served up in Northern Ireland.
Full British fried breakfast
What I did in this instance was take a couple of the distinctive elements from each of the four regional variations and serve them together, along with a few additional ingredients regularly common to all four creations. The result is a truly man-sized breakfast which will hopefully appeal to all lovers of the full British breakfast from around the UK and far beyond.
Representing England in the Full British Breakfast
Pork Sausage and Black Pudding
English pork sausage and black pudding
Black pudding (also known as blood pudding, blood sausage, boudin noir and more) is popular throughout the UK, though the recipe does vary considerably. In the North of England, the town of Bury is very famous for its black pudding. Pork sausages also know their regional specialty variations, with this particular sausage also including honey and English herbs.
Representing Scotland in the Full British Breakfast
Lorne Sausage and Ayrshire Middle Bacon
Scottish Lorne sausage and Ayrshire middle bacon
Lorne sausage (also known as sliced sausage or even square sausage) is unique to Scotland. Instead of being fed in to skins as is the case with most sausages around the world, the meat is compressed in to large blocks which are subsequently sliced. As well as being included in a full Scottish breakfast, the sausages are commonly eaten on bread rolls, accompanied with such as fried onions, a tattie (potato) scone and perhaps tomato or brown sauce.
While US bacon is taken from the belly of a pig, British bacon is more commonly taken from the back of the animal. This makes British bacon rashers larger and more meaty than American bacon slices. Middle bacon is almost like a cross between the two and incorporates a bit of both as the side cut of a pig is rolled before being sliced.
Representing Wales in the Full British Breakfast
Welsh Laverbread and Cockles
Laverbread and cockles
The Welsh fried breakfast definitely stands alone among the four British varieties as having the two most unique and unexpected ingredients. Laverbread (pronounced lay-ver bread) is a form of seaweed and in this instance came in a can. It is often combined with oatmeal and bacon fat to make laver cakes. The cockles (small shellfish) would traditionally be from Penclawdd near Swansea. In this recipe, I have simply heated the two ingredients through with the bacon in a frying pan.
Representing Northern Ireland in the Full British Breakfast
Potato Farls and Soda Farls
Potato and soda farls
Potato and soda farls are essential components of a true Ulster Fry and provide a robust, satisfying starch component within the breakfast. The potato farls are similar to tattie scones enjoyed in Scotland. These additions replace what would be likely to be fried bread, toast or even hash browns in the other regional offerings.
Full British Fried Breakfast Sundry Ingredients
Additions which are popular throughout the land
There are several ingredients which are commonly served as part of any of the four British breakfasts and they include mushrooms, tomatoes, baked beans in tomato sauce and an egg, usually served fried. Onions are another common component but are not served in this instance.
How to make this Full British Fried Breakfast
Ingredients per Person
- 1 English pork sausage
- 1 Scottish Lorne sausage
- 1 slice of black pudding
- 1 rasher of Ayrshire middle bacon
- 1 large portobello (breakfast) mushroom
- 1 medium tomato
- 1 potato farl
- 1/2 a soda farl or piece of soda bread
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon Welsh laverbread
- 1 tablespoon cooked cockles
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Sunflower oil for frying
- HP Sauce as required (optional)
Frying the sausages and black pudding
You will need at least two or even three frying pans for this recipe. If you don't have those many pans available, see further down this page for tips for alternative cooking methods re making the breakfast a little bit more of a healthy option.
As they will take the longest time to cook, you should start with the sausages and black pudding.
Add a little sunflower oil to a large, non-stick frying pan. Add the pork sausage only to the pan at this stage and put on to a very low heat. Cook for ten minutes, turning occasionally. Provided you keep the heat low enough, it should not burst.
The black pudding slice may well have a plastic rind around the edge. This can be removed either before or after cooking but naturally is not suitable for serving on the plate and eating. Add the Lorne sausage and black pudding to the pan beside the banger (pork sausage) and cook for ten more minutes, turning half way through.
Preheat your oven to its very lowest setting and add an ovenproof plate. Lift the cooked sausages and black pudding on to the plate and return to the oven to keep warm.
Mushroom, tomato, bacon, laverbread and cockles are all cooked in same pan
Wipe the mushroom clean and remove the stalk. Wash and dry the tomato and cut in half.
Add a little sunflower oil to a second frying pan over a low to medium heat and lay in the mushroom and tomato halves just after you have added the Lorne sausage and black pudding to the first pan. Just before you remove the meat items from the first pan, add the bacon alongside the tomato and mushroom. It should be fried for a couple of minutes on each side.
When you have turned the bacon, add the laverbread beside it to essentially just heat through. These precooked cockles should be added for about the last thirty seconds of cooking only, again just to quickly heat through.
Frying the potato and soda farls
When the sausages and black pudding have been removed from the first pan, the soda bread and potato farl should be added to fry for a couple of minutes on each side.
Egg is broken in to small bowl and seasoned
Carefully break the egg in to a small bowl. This not only makes it easier to add it to the third frying pan, it allows you to season it and the seasoning to spread through the egg as you pour it in the pan.
Frying the egg
Add a little sunflower oil to the third frying pan, wipe it around with some kitchen paper to form an oily film coating only and bring it up to a fairly high heat. Carefully pour in the egg, wait ten to twenty seconds until it starts to hold its shape and reduce the heat to fry it for three or four minutes. The egg is ready when the white is set all the way around the yolk.
The beans should be added to a small saucepan and heated very gently for a few minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
Plating Up the Full British Breakfast
Full British breakfast with HP Sauce
There are so many components of this breakfast, deciding how to plate it is almost a daunting task. The order suggested below can of course be varied to suit your own preferences.
Begin by laying the potato farl and soda bread on a large plate. Lay the bacon on top of the soda bread with the laverbread and cockles on top. Sit the Lorne sausage on top of the potato farl with the black pudding on top of that and the pork sausage alongside.
Sit the mushroom next to the pork sausage and lay the egg on the fourth side of the plate. The tomatoes can be placed in the center.
Spoon the beans on beside the egg and breakfast can b served, with or without the HP Sauce.
What about an All Day British Fried Breakfast?
All Day British fried breakfast served with a beer
Increasingly in the UK in recent years, what was once an entirely breakfast option is being enjoyed as a meal later in the day, particularly in pubs or cafes. The principal benefit of this for many people is that they are better able to face such a substantial offering - but also that it can very readily be enjoyed with a pint of British beer.
Tips for Making a Full British Breakfast a Healthier Option
It's probably fair to say that a meal of this type is never going to be described as a healthy eating option. There are, however, a number of ways in which it is possible to limit the fat content in particular of the meal.
Broiling (grilling as it is called in the UK) is one obvious such option. The sausages, black pudding, bacon, tomato and mushroom can all very readily be cooked in this way on a tray with a wire rack which allows the grease to fall through. Great care has to be taken, however, not to broil to an extent that the sausages and black pudding in particular dry out. Note that lining the base of your tray with aluminum foil will not help make the meal any healthier - but it will make a huge difference when it comes to washing up!
The soda and potato farls can very readily be prepared in a toaster on a fairly low setting, while the egg could be scrambled or even poached. If scrambling, you should serve two eggs per person. If you choose to poach and want some useful advice on how to poach an egg to perfection, you may wish to check out the short video immediately below which gives some great tips in this respect.