Warning: if you don’t know what a Full English Breakfast is and you aren’t a fan of grease start to your day, look away!
This blog post is a contribution from my English husband, Mr Sunny, and he doesn’t hold back when it comes to cooking a proper English fry up in the morning. As foodie travellers, we love exploring local cuisine and often we try to replicate the recipes when we return. We bought waffle mixture after visiting Brussels, as well ravioli cutters, pasta dyed with squid ink and balsamic vinegar at Eataly while we were in Bologna.
However, it’s understandable that eating traditional English food is a majority of our life at home in London. Having enjoyed Mr Sunny’s full English breakfast on countless occasions, I thought it well overdue to share it with you on this foodie blog. If you’re American, you will find a few similarities to our traditional American diner breakfast. However, keep reading to see what’s different when you are eating a Full English Breakfast in London cooked by a proper Londoner.
Full English Breakfast- Key Ingredients
A traditional full English breakfast means a morning plate served with sausage, bacon, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding, beans, and fried bread. You will probably want to accompany it with ketchup or brown sauce too. You can also incorporate different types of bagels in your breakfast if you’re fond of them, which, unfortunately, Mr Sunny is not.
With regard to selecting ingredients, Mr Sunny has some key advice for your English fry up.
- Purchase good quality ingredients. For example, visit your local butcher for sausage that is preferably a high meat content. Mr Sunny suggests plain pork, not Cumberland, Lincolnshire or pork and apple sausage.
- Be generous with the vegetable oil and under no circumstances should you substitute it with olive oil. His direct quote is, ‘Olive oil makes eggs go green and tastes like sh*t.’
- While you can get ‘streaky bacon’ in the UK, nearly every Full English Breakfast uses back bacon. He doesn’t used smoked, but he feels it depends on your taste preference.
Full English Breakfast- What You Need
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Full English Breakfast- Cooking Tips and Order
We aren’t going to share a direct recipe with you, because a traditional Full English Breakfast only requires basic cooking skills. Plan 25-30 minutes cooking time This is really the time it takes to cook the sausage, so you’ll want to start with that first.
You could probably get away with one pan. But, if you want to make it exactly like Mr Sunny, he suggests two frying pans. The smaller one is for the fried bread and eggs.
Here is the order for a successful English fry up.
- Put a decent amount of vegetable oil in the large frying pan on medium heat and add your sausage links.
- Next, place the black pudding in the same pan.
- After 5 minutes, it should be time to put in the bacon.
- While Mr Sunny is letting this food fry, he cuts mushrooms evenly. His preference is button or close cup.
- With regard to a tomato, he chops it in halves and then cuts a cross on the rounded side with skin so they cook evenly. He also sprinkles them with salt before cooking.
- In the smaller frying pan, Mr Sunny adds a generous amount of vegetable oil on medium heat. As you fry the bread, don’t be afraid to add more oil because the bread absorbs it. Because I was interrupting him a million times for video and still shots the day we cooked the one shown in the post, his bread ended up a little too fried.
- After you remove the bread, you probably need to add more oil because again the bread will have soaked up most of it.
- Crack the eggs and add them to the pan. You should move them around so they don’t stick to the pan. His bonus frying eggs tip is to use a teaspoon to flick oil an to the top of the eggs so you don’t get the ‘snotty’ bits. (I know every American just cringed at the sight of the word ‘snotty’ but that is the word they use here.)
- Finally, Mr Sunny removes the food items from the pans and puts them on paper towels to remove excess grease before serving.
- In our breakfast the day we filmed he didn’t include beans. But, if you want to make beans, you can remove them from the can and splash them with a dash of black pepper and Worcestershire sauce. He zaps them in the microwave for 45 seconds to 1 minute, gives them a quick stir and throws them back in for another 15-20 seconds.
Full English Breakfast- When Do English People Eat It?
Mr Sunny and generations of his family were born and bred in London. He says that the Full English Breakfast was more of a staple breakfast in the 50’s-60’s. To him, it seems like now this type of breakfast is reserved for lazy weekend mornings or holidays. But, he said if you go to your local caf in the morning, it’s common to see builders enjoying a hefty Full English Breakfast on a weekday.
If you visit London, you will likely have this option for breakfast at your hotel. If you holiday in Europe, you might see a Full English Breakfast on the menu. But, the standard European continental breakfast is different. As you can see in images from our Brussels hotel and Nice hotel in France, it features a selection of cold meats and cheeses, fresh fruit and pastries.
Full English Breakfast- Final Thoughts
If you would like to see a Full English Breakfast in the making, you can watch Mr Sunny cooking it below. We also go through tons of differences between an American breakfast and a British breakfast.
So if all that grease didn’t put you off and you made it to the end of this foodie blog post, what do you think of the Full English Breakfast? If you are English, is there anything you can suggest with regard to cooking tips? Do you do anything differently when making your Full English breakfast?
Americans, did you notice what was missing from the traditional English breakfast compared to what you find in America?
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jagjit singh says
As I loved English dishes so i will definitely try this as it looked easy to cook and thanks for describing in detail!
Christine @ Then Northern Star says
I used to get a cooked breakfast when I went to Uni in London. I loved the small, closet sized cafe that made them. I would skip the sausage b/c the kind they used wasn’t good. There was no bacon either. It was so filling I never had to each lunch. So as a student I saved money. As an American, the oddest part of an English Breakfast is the baked beans. We never have them for breakfast so that was the oddest thing. I also still haven’t wrapped my head around beans on toast. Why? Why? I think now I would not get a full fry up. I would prefer a Continental Breakfast (European). Although, some time you still need to eat a proper breakfast.
As an elderly Brit I’ve been eating (not every day) full English for over seven decades and still enjoy one on high days and holidays. The thing to remember is that the full English is a rough formula and there are many regional variations so whatever you do at home won’t be wrong. There is no need for the FE to be full of fat/oil, sausages can be cooked in the oven and the fat drained, equally bacon (including streaky) can be grilled (UK style top grill) which allows the fat to drain, toast is almost as good as fried bread. I quite like tinned plumb tomatoes with appropriate seasoning. For visitors to the UK be aware that it is not uncommon for a cafe or hotel to use very salty bacon (it’s probably cheaper to buy) so I usually avoid the bacon. As has been said many times, the full English sets you up for the day and is the perfect breakfast for manual workers and tourists who can enjoy their trips about without the need to stop for a long lunch.