The “Full” Breakfast
n the eyes of many foodies, the UK and Ireland are considered the kings of breakfast. The most identifiable breakfast tradition is, of course, the Full English Breakfast or Full Irish Breakfast, world famous for being hearty, bold, and delicious! The ingredients that are common to find across the breakfasts in Ireland, Scotland, and England include sausage, good loin bacon or rashers, black and/or white pudding, baked beans, fried egg, fried mushrooms, fried tomato, some type of bread on the side (often homemade soda bread), and of course tea or juice to wash it down. Apart from how massive it appears on a dish if you aren’t used to a large breakfast, it’s also enough to fuel you for a long day of travel or work.
Depending on what country you’re in, the specific name and contents of the meals may alter slightly.
In Northern Ireland, the meal is usually referred to as an “Ulster Fry,” and in the republic of Ireland as “the Full Irish Breakfast”. If you make your way over to the UK, you’ll be having “the Full English Breakfast,” or “the Full Scottish Breakfast” – The “full” breakfast in England is often referred to simply as a “fry-up,” as nearly all of the ingredients are fried up in a skillet or pan on the stove.
When it comes down to the specific ingredients, there are a few minor changes between these dishes that are worth mentioning. Many visitors expect the same ingredients in all three dishes, however, this is rarely the case – even within Ireland, the contents may vary with who cooks it.
Irish and English sausages are very much alike in flavor, texture, and ingredients. They are usually made with pork meat, and both include a filler with herbs and spices; however, Irish sausages Irish Sausage must contain at least 20% filler as well as twice-baked breadcrumbs called “rusk” in order to have the proper texture and consistency. English sausages are very close in content, but are closer to that of Cumberland sausages, containing a higher pork content and greater dependence on seasonings such as black pepper for their flavor. While the term “bangers” is familiar to Americans because of the English dish bangers and mash, there are actually hundreds of varieties of sausage between Ireland and Britain, and many would argue not one of them is a “banger”.
Black Pudding is a euphemism for blood sausage, a popular dish in Scotland and England. Black pudding is a sausage made with pork, suet (kidney fat), oatmeal, and pigs blood. Alternatively, white pudding is much more popular in Ireland, and is made in the same manner but the recipe omits the blood.
Potatoes are not as ubiquitous in Ireland, Scotland, and England as they are in a classic American breakfast, and are often a preferential addition in the form of potato bread, hashbrowns, or fried chunks.
For many, the inclusion of baked beans in the full breakfast is the most confounding addition, however, it is considered a staple to all three types of Full breakfasts The Heinz brand has dominated the baked beans market and is considered acceptable in almost any breakfast, although homemade beans will always surpass them!
Mushrooms are another optional ingredient to the Full Breakfast, usually either roasted in the oven or sauteed in some butter. Generally, these are white button mushroom, cooked whole and seasoned gently to let all of the flavors come through.
These small, cold, and smoked herring can be difficult to find in many countries, but were a quintessential British breakfast food of the Victorian and Edwardian era. They’ve begun to surge in popularity once again, and can be found either fried whole or flaked into the fry-up.
While each country has its own common ingredients, the truth is that the contents of the full breakfast are left to the individual and their preferences, and have been known to include around 40 interchangeable items! No matter which breakfast items end up in front of you, take your time to enjoy the delicious tradition!