After giving it some serious thought, I decided to break away from my planned post today and instead do another set of recipes, this time for a “Full Breakfast” or “Full Irish Breakfast” along with suggestions of how to do it wherever you are. Normally I wouldn’t post this until next week but I thought with that being the day right before the big holiday it wouldn’t give you time to get the stuff together if you wanted to create your own meal. Instead, next week I’ll talk about the history of St. Patrick, his holiday, and the various traditions that surround it, just in time for you to share with others if you celebrate.
A “full breakfast” is just a term used in the UK that means a hot meal as opposed to just cereal and toast or something like that. If you go and stay at a B and B, this difference will be clearly enunciated. They may just serve you a full breakfast on the weekends or maybe full breakfast during the week, with a light breakfast on the weekends, etc. What food makes up a full breakfast varies depending on where you are, the opinion of the proprietor, and what they are willing to serve you. So there’s no point arguing or debating with your hostess about what should or shouldn’t be included. Just eat it and enjoy.
Typically in Ireland a full breakfast will include: Bacon, sausage, black pudding, white pudding, eggs, toast, oatmeal, beans, and broiled tomato along with coffee, tea, or cocoa. If you want to serve your own version, just decide which of those sound the tastiest to you and focus on them rather than trying to include them all and driving yourself crazy. I will include the descriptions and/or cooking instructions for all of them and let you mix and match to your own preferences.
Bacon and Sausage: This is self-explanatory. We buy Irish bacon at the English shop near us, but if that weren’t available, we would just get a nice meaty bacon and call it good. For sausage, you can use breakfast links and cook them up or you could do slices from a larger roll. As a condiment, they serve something called “brown sauce” which reminds me vaguely of a less spicy A1. You can probably buy it in a specialty shop or just go without if you don’t wish to do that.
Puddings: I know, I know. Just when you got used to the word Pudding meaning “any dessert” from reading Harry Potter, now you have to realize this is not a dessert, but simply another type of sausage. White pudding is just pork sausage with a lot of bread crumbs in it (that’s what makes it kind of whitish) and black pudding is made with pigs’ liver, pigs’ blood, lard, etc. If you are really feeling ambitious enough to make your own sausages (!!!) the recipes are available on line. These can be purchased pre-made in various ethnic shops as well.
Yes, if you’re keeping track that is now 4 different types of fattening meat. Unless you have the luxury of completely ignoring your fat and cholesterol intake, you probably don’t want all 4 of them in one meal.
Eggs: Usually fried sunny-side up, sometimes over-easy. Rarely scrambled although you can ask for it specially if you are staying at a small place and the hostess is taking individual orders. Nothing fancy about them, but delicious all the same.
Toast: I don’t know what the English and Irish do to make their toast so delicious but we always eat a ton of it. They always just use plain white or a light wheat bread, toast it lightly, and then cut it on the diagonal. Butter it with Irish butter if you can get it and serve with marmalade. Now marmalade can be very bitter so if you can’t stand that, use strawberry jam. You could, if you were really ambitious, use the brown bread recipe I gave long ago for bread with your breakfast, but it is not really for toast, just for eating. Still good, though.
Oatmeal: Irish oatmeal is so good and hearty. It is not at all like the regular oatmeal we get here. Instead, they use steel-cut oats and they have to be cooked on the stove for like 30 minutes. We bought the ones we use actually in Ireland, but I noticed not too long ago in the store that Quaker is now offering steel-cut oats, so you may want to check that out and see if you can get them where you live. If not, even just regular oatmeal that you have to cook would be closer than instant. Once they are cooked, they are traditionally served with buttermilk, but I just like brown sugar or honey and then cream.
Beans: NOT GREEN BEANS. These are baked beans, but not the sweet kind like we have with a barbecue. More like pork and beans, white beans in a light tomato sauce. I think last year we used just plain Bush’s and it worked fine.
Broiled Tomato: This is my daughter’s favorite part of the breakfast. I can take ’em or leave ’em, but they’re pretty good I guess. Just get good-sized tomatoes and cut them in half, then broil them, cut side up, in an oven. You could choose to spice them up with salt and pepper or maybe even some other spices, but in Ireland they’re rather plain. Keep an eye on them, though. You don’t want them to burn, but just get hot. The skin will crack open and the juice will start to leak out and that’s when you want to take them out and serve them. If you live somewhere where it is hard to get good tomatoes at this time of year, you could broil some cherry or grape tomatoes, which seem to be more delicious year-round. Just don’t cut them, but broil them on a cookie sheet until the skin splits.
Beverages: Obviously tea is more common in Ireland, so if that’s what you want try to find a nice blend from there. But whatever your own preference is will work fine.