A Traditional Irish Breakfast
You will see the signs everywhere in Ireland from gourmet restaurants to petrol stations – Full Irish Breakfast – traditional Full Irish – Ulster Fry Breakfast or even Irish Fry Up. They are all versions of the same traditional Irish breakfast that has been served for years.
In Ireland you will find a Full Irish breakfast all over, even petrol stations have them. Usually when done at home a full Irish breakfast is a weekend or holiday treat because the calorie level is pretty high.
What’s included in a Full Irish breakfast? Any or all of these
- Irish pork sausages – should be a high meat content and locally made
- Irish rashers – not American streaky bacon
- fried eggs – the white firm and the yolk lovely and runny
- mushrooms – sauteed in butter so they caramelize a little
- beans – good old baked beans usually Heinz
- tomato – cut in half and grilled till a little mushy and bubbly with caramelized edges
- fried bread – not so much an Irish thing (except in the North) day old or stale bread fried till golden in bacon fat
- boxty/fadge/potato pancakes – thin triangular shaped potato pancakes very traditionally Irish
- Soda Farls – a triangular shaped soda bread (traditional in the North) that is fried with some bacon fat
- black pudding and or white pudding – black pudding is made from pork blood and white pudding is made from pork fat – surprisingly tasty when grilled or fried
When cooking a Full Irish at home you need good smoked Irish bacon or rashers (in N. America these are usually called English bacon or smoked pork from the loin. You can usually pick up some boxty or potato pancakes at British specialty shops and occasionally some farls.
These are easily made at home however and you can find a recipe at the end of this piece. As for the blood pudding or white pudding – again find a British shop and they are sure to have it along with the requisite Heinz beans.
Full Irish Breakfast vs Full English, Full Scottish and Full Welsh
Full Irish, Full English, Full Scottish, Ulster Fry, Full Welsh, a fry up, the full Monty are all names for a meal that is the fuel of a good day. Served throughout the British Isles and Ireland for breakfast this great plate of food is consumed in vast quantities.
Generally it is served only on special occasions or weekends as it does tend to be a bit heavy, but many B&B’s, roadside stops and restaurants offer their version of a Full Irish breakfast. Each area has its own version of the breakfast, often served with regional favourites.
Traditional full English breakfast
A Full English Breakfast tends to begin with a couple of fried eggs, good lean English back bacon, a couple of tasty pork sausages, fried bread (delicious white bread fried in the bacon grease), baked beans, grilled tomato and mushrooms and sometimes black pudding depending on where in England you are.
Traditional full Scottish Breakfast
A Full Scottish will have a couple of eggs, good Scottish bacon, black pudding, white pudding, tattie scones, and toast.
Traditional Full Irish Breakfast or an Ulster Fry up
A Full Irish breakfast or as it is known in the North of Ireland an Ulster Fry is similar to the Scottish with Irish farls, rashers (Irish bacon), black and white pudding, eggs, and sausages and sometimes a nice homemade soda bread.
Traditional full Welsh Breakfast
A Full Welsh is very similar but served with Laver bread or laver cakes, these are a kind of pancake that is made with seaweed and oatmeal and is traditionally served with breakfast but sometimes with a roast dinner.
Potato “bread” goes by many regional names, including slims, fadge, potato cake, potato pancakes, farls, and tattie scones in Scotland, Boxty (bacstaí in Gaelic) poundy or poundies. These are totally different to Potato Bread as they are a sort of flat unleavened triangular shaped patty, they are usually made with raw grated potato and some leftover mash although some folks have been known to make them with just left over mashed potato. There are also Soda Farls which are a leavened potato bread often served at breakfast as well.
The best recipes for fadge consist of finely grated, raw potato and mashed potato with flour, baking soda, buttermilk and sometimes egg. The mixture is then gently pulled together and rolled into a flat round shape and then cut into triangles.
It is then fried on a griddle until it is browned a little. The “cakes” can then be frozen or kept for a few days in the fridge to be pulled out for breakfast. For breakfast they are fried in a little butter until the cake gets a slight crisp on the outside.
This is a great recipe from European Cuisines site.
- 1/2 pound / about 3 cups of potatoes, peeled, cooked, and still hot
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
It’s important to make the potato cakes while the potatoes are still hot: this makes sure you’ll have a light and tasty result.
Rice or mash the potatoes very well until there are no lumps. (Ricing is really the best way to go with these, as it helps keep the texture of the potato cakes light.) In a bowl, mix the potatoes well with the salt; then add the melted butter and mix well again. Finally add the flour, working in enough to make a light and pliable dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a roughly oblong shape, about 9 inches long and four inches wide, and about 1/4 inch thick. Trim the edges until you have a neat rectangle: then cut again so that you have four or six triangles. (You can cut them into even smaller triangles if you like.)
Heat a dry griddle or frying pan until medium-hot. Then bake the farl triangles until golden brown on each side. Usually this takes about five minutes on each side.
Put the finished farls aside on a plate covered with a dishtowel / tea towel and continue baking them until they’re all done. Then flip the towel over them to cover them. The little bit of steam that comes off them will help keep them soft.
Then make your Irish breakfast or Ulster fry, frying the farls up in the butter or oil that you’re using for the rest of the dish. If you have more potato bread than you can use, it freezes very well: just put it in a Tupperware or similar plastic container first.
Want to learn more about what is Uniquely Irish check out this post.
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