Around these parts, one hears tell of “The Full Irish” when describing the perfect breakfast. For those of you not in the know, the Full Irish consists of two rashers of bacon, two sausages, two eggs, two pieces of black pudding and two of white pudding, tomato, mushroom, baked beans and a couple of slices of toast. Everything bar the beans and toast gets fried in oil. It really is a case of heart clogging quantity over quality. Nothing better after a night on the beer. The perfect hangover cure, they say.
The calorific case for the Full Irish is out-done by the “Ulster Fry”, a northern Irish version. Up there, they treat their arteries with less respect, substituting the beans and mushrooms with fried bread and oil fried potato cakes. In England, they do pretty well the same as we do in Ireland except for the naming rights “Full English”. The Welsh likewise and title it the “Full Welsh”. The Scottish add a thing called a “tatie scone” and lay claim to the title “Full Scottish”. Perhaps we could be a bit more imaginative in our naming conventions? What do tourists think when they are served the same heart stopping concoction in every country on the islands?
With this as a backdrop, I thought I would construct the perfect Irish breakfast, going for quality and goodness rather than quantity and lard content. For this we need Wild Smoked Salmon, Free Range Eggs and Home Made Potato Cakes. There is a good deal of Omega 3 and other stuff in here to make one feel superior to the well upholstered Full (Insert country name here) supporters. The smoked salmon is interesting. I like to carve my own, when I am lucky enough to get my hands on a side of wild.
Side note on carving smoked salmon: To carve smoked salmon correctly, start at the tail end, cutting towards the tail. Use a very sharp knife and cut as thin as you dare. The flesh at the tail end will be stronger in flavour. That’s because it’s thinner and absorbs more smoke relative to the thickness of the flesh, if you know what I mean.
For the potato cakes we need equal volumes of yesterday’s mashed potatoes and plain flour. Add to this a pinch or two of salt.
There is no way around this but to get the hands in and mix until combined.
Once combined, roll out on a floured surface.
Cut the potato cakes into shapes, remembering you will be balancing an egg on top.
Heat a cast iron pan on the stove until very hot. Dry fry the potato cakes until cooked on both sides. They are cooked when they look like in the photo. Remember the flour needs to be cooked in the process.
Poach the eggs while the potato cakes are cooking.
When the eggs and potato cakes are cooked, assemble the Perfect Irish Breakfast as shown in the photo below.
Don’t wait around to photo the breakfast, eat it like I did.
Try this beautiful breakfast. It may not be the ‘Full Anywhere’. It won’t serve as a hangover cure or as a precursor to a trip to the cardiac specialist. But, it really is as delicious a combination of quality Irish ingredients as one can get to the breakfast table.