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I have been a week in London and I enjoyed the English breakfast: scrambled egg, bacon, sausage, toasted bread, warm tomato (I skipped the beans as I shouldn't eat them). The best one was in the "Café Rouge" chain.

Now, how can I do it at home, in Italy (with local bacon and sausages), for a single serving? I really need a step by step comprehensive guide, as I tried to do a couple of time egg and bacon with an awful result. I assume that people doing it every day will know a lot of tips and secrets, such things that may seem obvious to you but are obscure to a foreign.

Of course, being a breakfast, it should be reasonably fast to prepare, so "logistic" tips are appreciated as well!

PS: please don't give me the recipe for "Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, baked beans, Spam, Spam, Spam and Spam".


Great answers, thanks to all of you. I really appreciated (and upvoted) the step by step guide provided by Aaronut, but I market as accepted Sam's answer for its reference to Italian availability of ingredients.

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don't forget the prunes, the kippers, and the kedgeree –  Tea Drinker Aug 11 '10 at 22:47
    
This seems like a recipe request to me: "step by step comprehensive guide". What exactly are you having trouble with? –  hobodave Aug 11 '10 at 22:48
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@Lorenzo: I think your question could use some improvement by: pulling your comments into the body of the question, clarifying what "an awful result" means. Can you not scramble eggs and cook bacon? If not, then I think those should be branched off into their own separate questions. –  hobodave Aug 11 '10 at 23:04
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@hobodave: I interpret this as a menu/meal planning question, personally. There aren't that many different "recipes" for scrambled eggs... –  Aaronut Aug 11 '10 at 23:37
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And @hobodave, I kind of agree, except, being someone that makes almost this exact breakfast every weekend, there are a lot of things I do with the "combination" that wouldn't make sense with the individual elements. And it's a little tricky to get everything ready at the same time if you're inexperienced. –  Aaronut Aug 12 '10 at 0:09

5 Answers 5

up vote 11 down vote accepted

I'm english. I mitigate timing issues by warming a pyrex dish or just a plate by keeping it under the pan I am grilling the stuff in (or in the oven on very low usually with the door open), then putting the bits that are cooked in the pan to keep warm. Generally this is because I'm doing it for more than I can do on the grill in a single sitting though, but it would work for single portions. I do this:

Grill (broil) your bacon (smoked back), sausages (pork) and tomato. Bacon should be flipped once, when the fat on the rind is just taking colour, sausages turned a few times, tomato should be halved and done cut side up.

whilst they are grilling prepare your scrambled eggs. Just mix 2-3 eggs a little in a bowl, no need to whisk to death, just mix till loosely combined. Add a little cream or milk if you want. whatever egg recipe flots your boat

The bacon will be done first (don't make it crispy - just a little colour on the fatty bits). remove it when done, and put on the warm plate under the grill pan to keep warm. Cover it with another plate or foil. When the sausages are nearly done, pop in your toast.

Then season with salt and pepper and cook your scrambled eggs. Again do this according to your favourite egg recipe, I melt butter in a non stick frying pan, add the eggs and stir with wooden spoon until set. some like the runnier than others. finish with a large knob of butter and check the seasoning.

toast, sausages and tomatoes should be done.

butter toast, put everything on a plate and eat with HP sauce and a hot cup of tea, no sugar, very little bit of milk, preferably from a pot of tea.

if you don't like the idea of timing the eggs/toast with the finishing of the sausage you can grill everything till done and keep it all on the warm plate in the oven/under the grill pan (not directly under the heat, but under the pan which is under the heat) whilst you make the eggs/toast/tea.

its not traditional, but I also like a slice of halloumi grilled with mine. maybe that's just me.

the bacon that is usually used is back bacon (I much prefer smoked)

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but some people will use streaky bacon (again smoked is better IMHO):

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It probably unlikely that you will get back bacon in italy, so you next best bet is slices of (smoked) pancetta which is similar to streaky bacon.

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you might substitute a nice dry cured ham instead, but it won't be quite the same. though ham and eggs is a good breakfast.

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OK, so I'm supposed to broil everything... I was doing that on a Teflon pan... Maybe there lies my awful result... –  Lorenzo Aug 12 '10 at 1:45
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@Lorenzo: While I'm sure it's different, it's certainly not going to turn out "awful" to pan-fry. I always do the eggs in a non-stick skillet and the bacon/sausages in a big cast iron skillet. –  Aaronut Aug 12 '10 at 3:29
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@Lorenzo, you don't have to broil everything, I think a lot of people would do as Aaronut does and fry it all. In fact if you were having fried eggs, then I'd be tempted to do the same as then everything could be done in a single pan. But grilling is healthier. There again, as Aaronut points out, the sausages would almost certainly be better if they were fried. And if you were frying you could go for the full traditional experience and have black pudding, fried eggs and at the end fry the bread in the bacon/sausage fat, instead of toast. Makes your arteries harden just thinking about it. –  Sam Holder Aug 12 '10 at 7:45
    
@Sam: but if you add oil (or butter, or the bacon grease) on the broil, the food wouldn't actually fry? –  Lorenzo Aug 12 '10 at 11:42
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@Richard. That's true, but it does do something weird to the corn flakes. –  Sam Holder Aug 13 '10 at 18:02

This may not be a perfect answer, since I'm Canadian - but our breakfast is pretty close to what you refer to as the English breakfast, minus the tomato. I think an "authentic" English breakfast is rather different, but that's another question entirely!

If I understand correctly, you're hung up on two things, the first being timing and the second being specific preparations. So I'll tell you what I do; mine's ready in about 20 minutes and always comes out terrific.

  1. Lay the bacon strips and sausages in a cold pan and turn the heat up to medium. I'm assuming the use of those thin breakfast sausages, which have approximately the same cooking time as bacon (slightly longer).

  2. While the heat's coming up, crack 2-3 eggs into a bowl. Add some cream (this makes them fluffier), and whatever seasonings you prefer; most people use salt and pepper, I occasionally use garlic or onion salt/powder. Lightly beat the mixture with a fork.

  3. At this stage, I like to get a second, small skillet for the eggs. Turn the heat up to medium and let the pan heat up until you can flick some water at it and see it form droplets (and evaporate). Now turn the heat on the egg skillet down to medium-low.

  4. While the skillet's heating up, the bacon and sausage should be starting to sizzle. You'll want to flip the bacon and turn the sausages every 2-3 minutes from now on, until you see the bacon starting to crisp. Also constantly tilt the pan around so that the sausages actually fry in the bacon fat - this makes them cook faster and makes them tastier.

  5. Get a large serving plate ready and line it with some paper towel.

  6. At about 10 minutes in, the bacon should be just starting to crisp and turn brown in parts. You'll want to leave it on for just a couple of minutes longer, depending on how crisp you like your bacon (I like it a little bit tender).

  7. While you're finishing off the bacon, melt about a tablespoon of butter in the smaller skillet. In the other pan, flip the bacon one last time.

  8. As soon as the butter is melted (don't let it turn brown), pour the eggs into the small skillet. You can let them sit for a moment - the bacon should be about done now, so take the strips out and lay them on the plate with paper towels so the fat drains. The sausages will usually take a few minutes longer; turn the heat up to medium-high to speed this process up.

  9. Now the eggs should be starting to set. For a twist here, I like to sprinkle some paprika and/or dill weed onto the partially-set eggs, but you can skip that if you like. Either way, start scrambling; use a spatula to break apart any areas that are set, push the edges into the center, and flip most of the pieces over. Keep doing this for about 2-3 more minutes.

  10. While you're doing the eggs (you can take them off the heat for a few seconds if you're slow), put the toast on.

  11. The bacon should be drained by now, so remove the paper towel. Remove the eggs to the same plate. The sausages should be just about done as well; if they're still not fully cooked, I usually start to "sauté" them at this point to get them cooked as evenly as possible. This should take a few more minutes at most; once done, remove them to the plate. (You can drain them too if you like; I usually don't bother.)

  12. Toast is done. Butter it if you're into that. Slice it along the diagonal and remove to the plate.

And there you are. If you've followed all these steps correctly, you should already be able to feel your arteries hardening simply by looking at it. Serve with tea (if you're English) or coffee (if you're anyone else).

Total preparation/cooking time: About 20 minutes.

P.S. Don't forget the spam and baked beans.

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crispy bacon?!? heresy! –  Sam Holder Aug 12 '10 at 0:46
    
@Aaronut: thanks, this guide is very useful. I'll have a try. Unfortunately the very first issue is that Italian bacon is so different: most of it is just fat, with a very thin meat portion. P.S.: Spam spam spam spam. Lovely spam! Wonderful spam! –  Lorenzo Aug 12 '10 at 1:39
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You use butter for eggs, when you have bacon grease just sitting there, ready to be used? –  Joe Aug 12 '10 at 2:30
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@Joe: Yes. I was actually planning to make mention of that but it slipped my mind while I was writing this. First of all, I like the taste better. Second, it's a timing thing, using the bacon grease for the eggs means I can't start them until both the bacon and sausages are done. And third, I don't waste the bacon fat, I just strain it and reserve it for something else! –  Aaronut Aug 12 '10 at 3:27
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@lorenzo just a heads up, what these gentleman are talking about is back bacon, it's a lot closer to ham than the belly bacon you are talking about. I don't know what Canadian bacon translates to in Italian markets but i know it's not what you call bacon. –  sarge_smith Aug 12 '10 at 7:11

My routine, cooking for 2 :

Heat up grill.

Put sausages on grill, with the expectation they will take 15-20 minutes to cook through - I usually use a larger sausage (something like this from our local award winners).

Cut slices of bread, to make toast later.

Break 3 eggs in a jug or bowl and quickly stir with a fork (the aim is to scramble, not to create a perfectly even consistency). Warm butter in a pan. When the butter melts, lower the heat down to low, and add the eggs, stirring and folding them every minute or so. By cooking them slowly, you can stop the cooking when they are at your perfect consistency (I believe they should still be slightly runny). Adding milk or cream at the end helps this process.

I put the bacon on when there is about 10 minutes to go. The thinner the bacon, the less time it will need under the grill. I typically use a medium-to-thick-cut smoked back bacon, with relatively little fat.

At this point you should be turning the sausages & stirring the eggs. Turn the bacon once or twice during the cooking time.

At about 3 minutes to go panic, throw the bread into toaster.

Realise that the sausages are still not cooked through, and put everything into oven to keep warm while you carry on cooking.

Once cooked, quickly transfer the sausages and bacon onto kitchen roll to dry off excess grease/fat. I know the English Breakfast is traditionally known for being greasy, but personally I think there are enough fats in there without a coating of extra oil. Unless you are suffering from too much vino from the night before.

Options : The grilled tomato - slice in half and put under the grill when you have about 15 minutes to go.

Mushrooms - either small chopped button mushrooms, fried in butter, or a single large mushroom cooked under the grill (turned once)

Black Pudding (blood sausage/buristo/Biroldo) - this is more popular in the North. It differs from Italian and other European blood sausages by containing a lot of oatmeal. It can either be grilled (alongside your bacon) or fried for about 5 minutes. Personally, this is one of the highlights of a full English breakfast, but it is not a healthy option.

Beans - we are not allowed baked beans in my house, due to my fiancé's phobia.

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+1 for black pudding. There's also white pudding and fruit pudding in Ireland and Scotland. –  slim Jan 14 '11 at 11:37

I saw this Gordon Ramsey breakfast recently and it sounds like what you're looking for minus the sausage/bacon. The eggs are so artful. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxV9QLuEwZo

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+1 for calling eggs artful. genius... –  Ocaasi Aug 16 '10 at 4:51

If you are doing breakfast before going to work, you don't want to be watching the stuff cook on the stove - so I would make most of this stuff in the oven.

That might present a challenge in Italy, because many homes don't have ovens - but it is the leisurely way to do things when you want to get on with life at the same time as cooking, and it gives the least greasy product. It is also the slowest way to prepare breakfast, but it works.

Cooking is done on steel trays covered in aluminium foil, lightly smeared with rapeseed oil (Canola, as some people might say) or similar. Set the oven to about 180 degC. I like two trays, one is for sausages, mushrooms and tomatoes, the other for bacon and eggs.

You start with the sausages. Beginning from a cold oven, they take about 40 min, that's the length of the process. Put them on a tray, put the tray in the oven. Clean and chop mushrooms, make a mushroom "grab bag" of aluminium foil, put them on the tray with the sausages.

If someone is insisting on beans (decadent ingredient originally popularised by US forces during WWII), open a can and put it in the bottom of the oven on a square of aluminium foil for when the sauce spills over (another pan wash saved).

Take a shower for 12 min.

Cut tomatoes in half, put them on the tray among the sausages. Arrange the bacon on the second tray, black pudding, and griddle rings for eggs. Put the tray in the oven to heat while you get ready to make the toast. After the tray has warmed up, put a spoonful of oil in each egg ring and put the eggs in.

Make coffee or tea, and toast. Serve everything up when it looks ready.

Low maintenance cooking - neglect until cooked, clean up by discarding aluminium foil, and it really is the best thing to do with streaky bacon if you're eating it for breakfast. You can make it go right through to crispy in the oven, and you won't mind at all!

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