A full breakfast is a breakfast meal that typically includes bacon, sausages, eggs, other cooked foods and a beverage such as coffee or tea. It comes in different variants and is referred to by different names depending on the area; it is colloquially known as a “fry up” in all areas, however. It is usually referred to as a full English breakfast in England and, therefore, as a “full Irish”, “full Scottish”, “full Welsh”, and the “Ulster fry” in the Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, respectively. It is especially popular in the British Isles, to the extent that many cafés and pubs offer the meal at any time of day as an “all-day breakfast”. It is also popular in other English-speaking countries, particularly countries that were a part of the British Empire. Long-established in British culture, about a fifth of British tourists eat a full English breakfast while on holiday overseas.
The full breakfast is among the most internationally recognised British dishes along with such staples as bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, roast beef, Sunday roast and the Christmas dinner. The full breakfast became popular in the British Isles during the Victorian era, and appeared as one among many suggested breakfasts in home economist Isabella Beeton‘s Book of Household Management (1861). A full breakfast is often contrasted (e.g. on hotel menus) with the lighter alternative of a continental breakfast, consisting of tea, milk or coffee and fruit juices with bread, croissants, bagels, or pastries.
Recipe: English Breakfast
Some things are too good to mess about with, so I’ve kept my English breakfast pretty old-school.
- 4 pieces higher-welfare pork and leek sausages
- 4 pieces field mushrooms , wiped
- 2 pieces small tomatoes , scored on top
- 420 grams baked beans
- 25 grams butter
- 4 pieces eggs
- 1 gram freshly ground black pepper
- 4 pieces thick slices bread (for toasting)
Preheat the grill to high. Set the oven to its lowest heat and pop 2 plates in it to keep warm. Put the sausages, mushrooms and tomatoes, scored-side up, on to a large grill pan and place under the grill, about 5cm from the heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, turning the sausages once or twice.
Add the bacon and black pudding to the pan and grill for 5 minutes, turning halfway through cooking, until they are cooked and crispy. Put the baked beans in a saucepan and warm gently for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Place a non-stick saucepan over a low heat. Melt 1 knob of butter in the pan, add the eggs, season to taste and stir gently until just scrambled. Remove from the heat. Put the bread in the toaster, and arrange the sausages, mushrooms and tomatoes with the bacon, black pudding and beans on the warm plates. When the toast pops up, butter it, then put a slice on each plate and top with scrambled egg. Serve with HP sauce or tomato ketchup on the side, and a pot of tea.
Timing really is the biggest hurdle to get over for this dish. You want everything ready at the same time and hot, so use the oven as a place to keep things warm and remember to cook things like eggs and toast last.