It took me a long time to accept the sad fact that Ireland doesn’t have a culture of big breakfasts if you’re eating out. No waffles, no corned beef hash, no farmers’ breakfast skillets, no buttered rye toast, no bottomless cups of coffee in chunky diner mugs. What we do have, though, is the fry.
In her book Irish Traditional Cooking, Darina Allen says the fry was a tradition after Mass on Sundays, though these days you’ll find it on the menu in every B&B and hotel and you have to have it at least once if you’re visiting. Made up of baked beans, bacon, black and white pudding, sausages and eggs as well as grilled tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms and a slice or two of brown or soda bread or potato farls, a traditional full Irish breakfast packs a lot of protein onto one plate.
Here, it gets a modern makeover as a salad — though with all the same ingredients, it’s no less filling than the traditional version. It might not be as homey as a short stack of pancakes dripping with maple syrup or as elegant as eggs Benedict, but one thing you can say about an Irish fry is that it certainly sets you up for the day.
Irish Fry Breakfast Salad
adapted from The Surf Cafe Cookbook by Jane and Myles Lamberth (via Image Interiors & Living magazine)
Serves 2 generously
This recipe comes from the new Surf Café Cookbook by Jane and Myles Lamberth, owners of the super cute Shells Café in Strandhill, County Sligo, with views out to the sea. The potato farl croutons are my own addition. If you can’t get potato farls, try using soda bread, and if the art of the poached egg eludes you, top the salad with a fried egg or even a plain boiled egg instead.
for the salad:
olive oil or rapeseed oil
6 slices of black pudding
4 rashers, cut into lardons
2 eggs, poached
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 x 400 g (14 oz) tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
mixed baby lettuce leaves
for the potato farl croutons:
knob of butter
2 potato farls, cut into small cubes
2 teaspoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
for the dressing:
5 tablespoons rapeseed or olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat some olive or rapeseed oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the slices of black pudding and bacon (if space allows in the pan, otherwise fry them separately) and fry until cooked through and crispy. Place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain off any excess grease, then cut up or crumble the black pudding into large chunks. Set aside.
To make the potato farl croutons, drain off any excess grease from the pan you cooked the bacon and pudding in. Add in a knob of butter over a medium heat. When it starts to sizzle, add in the cubed potato farls and sprinkle over the parsley and some salt and pepper, stirring to coat the farls with the butter, herbs and seasoning. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they’re browned and crispy.
Meanwhile, to make the dressing, whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard and some salt and pepper in a jug or shake to combine in a screw-top jar. Poach 2 eggs in whatever way works best for you.
Place the cherry tomatoes and cannellini beans in a bowl and add in the black pudding and bacon. Pour over half of the dressing and toss to combine. In a separate large bowl, toss the lettuce leaves with the remaining dressing. Add in the cherry tomatoes, beans, black pudding and bacon, tossing well.
Divide the salad between 2 plates and scatter the potato farl croutons over, then top each salad with a poached egg. Serve with mugs of strong tea or coffee, though a bracing glass of grapefruit juice is also especially good.
For a bit of fun, check out Vicky’s take on the full Irish breakfast - as dessert!