The Scottish Breakfast Question. Whats Yours?
Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable refers to a Scotch breakfast as “a substantial breakfast of sundry sorts of good things to eat and drink”
The individual elements that go together to make up the famous Scottish Breakfast can be likened to those of a world-class “meal team” about to go forth to compete against the best national teams that the United Kingdom has to offer. Researching these I have so far come up with – “The Ulster Fry”, ” The Full English”, ” The Full Welsh” and most recently “ The Cornish Breakfast”. More of these other breakfast plates a bit later. First of all lets take a look at what makes up a cooked Scottish breakfast plate and here’s the problem. There are many variations. So let me make the case for what I consider to be the best that Scotland can offer and the case against certain inappropriate sometimes Scottish foods.
The Scottish Breakfast Plate
The Eggs – serve two, must be local, free range and fried sunny side up. Scrambled and Poached eggs are a completely separate dish and should not be offered.
Bacon – When I started cooking breakfasts there was only one bacon to offer, Ayrshire Middle. This was served crispy grilled on both sides. Scotland has world-class bacon curers, amongst them Ramsay of Carluke.Lets try and keep it Scottish please. if you have a local bacon curer all the better.
Sausage – I am going to be controversial here and say that the pork sausage needs to move over. Instead serve the Lorne sausage or sliced sausage.I think that fine mixture of beef and pork deserves its rightful place as an egg dipping delight.
Black Pudding – In my opinion the best black pudding to serve is Stornoway Black Pudding. This is so special that it has EU protected status. There are many other good local artisan puddings made by local butchers in Scotland. Try yours out. Do not use English black pudding, it’s a different food. AND don’t grill it. FRY it.
Fruit Pudding – I remember as a child when we first moved to Scotland I wondered why this wasn’t being served with custard. Then I tasted the golden brown,fruity, spicy pudding that had been fried in bacon fat – mmmm. Yes its a must. Another one that needs to be fried.
White Pudding – I haven’t yet found the right use for white pudding. It’s very tasty. It’s very greasy. I don’t think its right for breakfast. Sorry.
Tomato- A fresh ripe tomato, cut in two, seasoned with salt and black pepper then grilled until soft even a little carmalised. There is no room here for the tinned tomato. Some say the fresh tomato should only be on the plate when it is in season in the UK.
Mushrooms – Fried mushrooms in season only. Just some salt and pepper, no garlic. NO tinned mushrooms out of season. Local field mushrooms fantastic.
Haggis – Sorry in my view Haggis has no place on a breakfast plate. It is so much better enjoyed at dinner or lunch with mashed tatties, bashed neeps and a wee dram. I will further upset purists here by saying it is very good for lunch topped with a fried egg served with crispy french fries and a large dollop of Daddies brown sauce ! – my mis – spent youth.
The Tattie Scone – an essential part of the dish used to scoop up yummy egg yolk, black pudding, tomato – you know what I mean, keep a bit back to scrape your plate.
Baked Beans – This American interloper has no place on a Scottish Breakfast plate.
Lets have a look at what makes up the cooked breakfast plates of the rest of the UK
The Ulster FryTwo fried eggs, the all-important lightly browned potato and soda bread, perfect pork sausages, crispy bacon, black and white pudding and a juicy red tomato
Welsh breakfast Common features are bacon, sausages, cockles, laverbread, black pudding, oatmeal and fried eggs
English breakfast A traditional full English breakfast includes bacon,fried eggs, fried or grilled tomatoes, fried mushrooms, fried bread,sausages and baked beans, commonly called a “fry-up”.
Black pudding is often added, as are fried leftover mashed potatoes with cabbage (known as bubble and squeak) or hash browns. In the North Midlands, fried or grilled oatcakes sometimes replace fried bread. When an English breakfast is ordered with everything available it is often referred to as a Full English.
Cornish Breakfast The traditional Cornish breakfast includes hog’s pudding (Hog’s Pudding is a type of sausage comprised of pork meat and fat, suet, bread, and oatmeal or pearl barley formed into the shape of a large sausage – a sort of West Country Haggis) and Cornish potato cakes (made with mashed potatoes mixed with flour and butter and then fried) or fried potatoes alongside the usual bacon, sausage, tomato, mushrooms and fried eggs In the past traditional Cornish breakfasts have included pilchards and herring. I like the Cornish Haggis idea and their take on the Tattie Scone.