When I imagine a British morning, I instantly think of a light mist outside, the smell of a fresh pot of tea on the stove, and the anticipation of a traditional full English breakfast. While I know it’s not something everyone in the United Kingdom eats daily, it didn’t stop me from ordering a big plate of a baked beans, fried eggs, pork sausage and bacon the last time I found myself in the Heathrow Airport early in the morning.
This hearty breakfast, which consists of bacon, baked beans, grilled tomatoes, fried bread, black pudding and fried eggs, has been a staple in England since the middle ages. According to Historic UK, these lavish breakfast spreads were mostly served at weddings and social ceremonies. (If you are a fan of Downton Abbey you should remember that Mrs. Hughes wanted a big wedding breakfast to celebrate).
Later in the Victorian era the middle class began to follow the tradition of a full English breakfast, which is also called a fry-up. From then to the 1950’s almost half of the adult population started their day with a fry-up.
Today the British breakfast isn’t served daily in British homes but rather served in many cafes, bed and breakfasts and luxury hotels. You can also find regional takes on the breakfast, each giving their own take on the breakfast. The Ulster fry serves up Irish soda bread while the Scottish breakfast shares a tattie scone. And a breakfast in Wales gets you a laverbread which includes a topping made with seaweed.
How to Make a Full English Breakfast
Of all the British dishes you have to try, this English breakfast recipe tops the list. While it may take a little bit of time to cook up all of the elements, you’ll be gobsmacked at the flavor and taste.
To begin, heat up a skillet to low heat and add in the butter and pork sausage. Cook the sausage slowly and add the bacon to the pan to crisp up. If you want to get real traditional, back bacon is the way to go. Proper fry ups usually use black or white pudding (blood sausage) as well, but that’s totally up to you.
Once everything is cooked up, remove the meat from the frying pan and keep in a low oven to stay warm.
Meanwhile, cook the baked beans in a small saucepan over low heat. If you want to go super traditional skim the International foods aisle at the grocery store and pick up the British can. It tastes different than the baked beans we are used to in North America, so it’s worth the effort to find it.
Onto the veggies. Heat up a knob of butter in the skillet and toss in the mushrooms. After about five to six minutes they’ll be nice and golden brown.
Across the pan add in the halved tomatoes, cut side down, and brown for 3-4 minutes.
You can flip the tomato over to cook the other side once the cut side of the tomato is browned. You don’t want to over cook the tomatoes and make it mushy, but rather just cooked.
Now time for the eggs. You can either fry them or poach to your doneness. Whether you go for poached eggs or their fried counter-part, the yolks should be runny to act as a sauce for the breakfast plate. This is the perfect time to toast your bread as well.
To prepare the plate simply pile all the elements onto a warm plate and serve with a cup of steaming hot tea and a glass of orange juice.