The 12 unbreakable rules of a full Irish breakfast
The Full Irish breakfast is a noble tradition, and as with all traditions, there are certain ceremonial expectations.
To really enjoy the Full Irish, you have to respect the Full Irish. To respect the Full Irish, you have to play by the rules. What are the rules? Well...
1. Egg yolks must be runny.
That's if you're having fried eggs, which you absolutely should be. Scrambled are okay if you don't have the frying space, but leave your poached eggs back at the manor house, Duchess.
2. There must be some distance between the eggs and the beans.
You may want to mix them, but you want that to be your decision. Use a sausage as a breakwater.
3. Go double or nothing.
One sausage? One bacon? No chance. We're not here for single servings. This is Venus and Serena, boy - we're here for doubles. Once you've eaten that first sausage, you've got the taste for it. You're gonna need another. You'd better have another.
4. No chips.
Photo: Jason Cartwright
No. Chips. You can have fried potatoes, maybe a hash brown or two at a push, but absolutely no chips. If you want sausage, beans and chips, you should cook sausage, beans and chips. This is a Full Irish. Chips are beautiful in their own way, but they don't belong on the same plate.
5. Bacon should be crispy, but not too crispy.
You don't want flabby, fleshy bacon wobbling all over your plate, nor do you want the scrapings from the crematorium floor; if you can snap it, you've gone too far. There's a mid-ground that should be your bacon happy place. Enough chew, but not too much crack.
6. If you’re doing toast, do actual toast.
Toast means toasted bread. It doesn't mean bread that's been held under a hairdryer for two seconds. Toast should be a decent shade of brown; it should have structural integrity; it should be, in a word, toasted. If it can't support a decent dollop of beans, it's not toast. Fried bread is an acceptable alternative, because fuck your arteries, right?
7. Don’t cheap out on the meat.
Cheap bacon is mostly water, and once that water evaporates you will be left with some very sad, very tasteless bacon indeed. Cheap sausages are made of Christ knows what, but they're marginally more acceptable. Marginally. The thing is, if you can't spare the extra €2 to get a decent pack of butcher's quality sausages, should you really be splashing out on a Full Irish at all?
8. Ketchup, HP, or Chef: nothing else.
Mayonnaise? Get the fuck out of here.
9. Tinned tomatoes are not acceptable.
Unless you absolutely fucking love tinned tomatoes (and we know you're out there), there's no need to lower yourself to those standards, or get all that juice all over the shop. Get a nice, plump tomato, season with salt, pepper and a little oil, and pop it under the grill for around five minutes. Perfect.
10. For God's sake, get your timing right.
No one is born knowing the secret to a perfect Full Irish. It takes time, but it mainly takes time management. You want everything to arrive on the plate piping hot and perfectly cooked. Keep a covered Pyrex dish in the oven on a low temperature and, if timing isn't your strong suit, pop your constituent elements in there to keep warm while you deal with the remainder of the meal.
11. Don't make it like this
Everything about this picture is sad. This picture is practically crying. The withered bacon, the shrivelled dick tomatoes, the cat sick scrambled eggs, the styrofoam plate, the primary school safety cutlery. If it comes to this, the best way to eat it is to put it in the bin, find a quiet corner to sit in, and think about what you've done.
12. Eat it all
You've started, so you'll finish. A Full Irish is like a good book - if you don't see it through to the end, what was the point in starting in the first place?