The Full English Breakfast is both regal and humble. Second only perhaps to Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding, the fry-up is the food that is most closely associated with our culture all over the world. Wherever you go, I can guarantee you can order a Full English and a pint of lager somewhere in true British style.
But that being said, why would you want to eat it in the far-flung corners of the world when we have such a fantastic offering right on our doorstep?
I have paid a visit to a few of my favourite mid-morning eateries and have picked out the best features of a fry-up to bring you… The Perfect Full English Breakfast.
How do you like your eggs in the morning? I know everyone has a personal preference, and poached eggs are hotter than a viral video of a kitten falling off a unicorn cake, but I think we should stick with a classic.
Full English breakfasts should be served with a fried egg and that is that. Remember, the purposes of this article is to come up with something completely ‘extra’ – so I think the ultimate Manchester fry up deserved a crispy fried duck egg- like the one you can find on the epic brunch menu at Cottonopolis. Runny, creamy yolk, crispy white and a whole lot of pleasure on every mouthful.
Bacon is Bacon, so instead of taking inspiration from a restaurant for their expert cooking of bacon, I thought I would do something a little different and give some fabulous butchers in the area a shout out.
I can never decide if I want back or streaky, smoked or unsmoked- but the lovely people at the Butchers Quarter gave me a bit of both. Their pork products are all local from Lancashire and Yorkshire, so they get some points for that, but I have to say, the bacon in itself is a dream. Top marks all-round.
I’m going to do the same thing with the sausages. Although I have heard great things about the Lamb Merguez Sausages from Trove, I decided I wanted to be a bit more traditional. If you head on down to PJ Howarth Butchers in Flixton however, they offer a fantastic Merguez that is to die for. However, for the ‘Ultimate’ I think proper pork sausages are the way to go.
I tootled off to the Arndale’s High Street Meat Market and the guy there introduced me to ‘Manchester Sausages’. These are pork sausages flavoured with beautiful spices like nutmeg and mace. The Butcher told me that these are a very old kind of traditional sausage, so I thought I would give them a go. And I’m sure glad I did- these are everything you could ever want in a sausage, so they made the cut.
Growing up, my Scottish parents fed me with a lot of black pudding. Then I moved to Manchester where it is an even bigger thing, but it still surprises me that there are people dotted all over the country who are not enjoying a delicious black disc with their Full English.
That makes me sad. It was really a no-brainer that the ultimate fry-up would include Bury Black Pudding– but if you are recently reformed vegetarian or someone who has been living in a cave, try it on the Koffee Pot Breakfast menu before you commit to a whole 9-inch sausage of the stuff.
I love mushrooms, but I know they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. For me, mushrooms simply must feature on a fry-up for a bit of relief from the meat and dairy chaos. I always chop up whatever mushrooms I can find and fry them in a little butter and lemon juice.
However, Leaf on Portland Street provides you with a full field mushroom which both looks and tastes delicious. I cooked mine under the grill with garlic, butter and a little fresh thyme for that extra Je ne sais quoi.
I’m going to keep this one short and sweet. If its bread and/or toast you are looking for its going to be Pollen isn’t it? No Question. Go get a loaf of sourdough from Ancoats and toast it in the leftover bacon fat. Yeah, you heard that right. Bacon fat.
I want to let you all know that I thought long and hard about whether the ultimate Full English would include a fried tomato or beans. I know some of you out there will want both, but I felt the tomato level had to be reined in a little bit.
My conclusion was that a fried tomato is a fried tomato- there isn’t anything special about it. But beans, on the other hand, can be – especially if they are homemade like they are at Thyme Out in West Didsbury. Trust me, one bite of these and you will never look at a tin of Heinz the same way again.
Now, I have to say that I have a soft spot for those shitty hash browns that you get in a big bag in the freezer section of any good supermarket.
In fact, it wasn’t until about a year ago where I discovered that you could actually make hash browns for yourself, and the place I discovered this was Albert’s Schloss. These are practically potato rostis or Latkis- but they do the job and they do it well. Crispy, light and well-seasoned, these bad boys are a must on the ultimate fry-up.
Recipe: The Perfect Full English Breakfast
(Serves two hungry people)
4 Manchester Sausages
For the Beans
For the Hash Browns