The English Breakfast, A One-Pan Wonder

By Alec Harding –

I have been led to believe, whether rightly or less so, that classic French cooking was developed around the two-burner stove. Mine is not to judge, but the premise caused me to think not forwards – but back. Having conceptually established myself next to a fire, whether it be in a hearth or a field, I reflected upon what it would take to create a meal given that one source of energy – and being British, I had grant consideration to that one meal which never fails to astound the civilized world: the English Breakfast.

While tourists are served a vast array of both this or that, including such unlikely items as as Hake poached in milk, or buttery mushrooms, there exists one set of ingredients for a complete breakfast most fundamental to the satisfaction of any Britain’s palate, which might be combined within one pan, and utilize but one heat source.

These would be:
Several rashers of bacon ( Thick cut – not skimpy)
Two sausages ( really, any kind will do – this is a matter of taste)
Two large eggs (no, they need not be free range)
One tomato
Two slices bread (wheat might be best)

While sipping a cup of tea, heat a large cast-iron pan, having first greased it with butter, and start frying the bacon and sausage – with the flame fairly low this will take a while, affording time to slice the tomato and drink another cup of tea.

When the bacon is close to done (this is a judgment call – the British eat rubber, while the Americans eat crunchies), mound it, along with the sausages around the edge of the pan, leaving the center clear.

The eggs should be fried in the rendered bacon fat, not too quickly and covered with a lid for “sunny-side-up” – the option would be to tilt the pan during cooking, while rapidly spooning hot oil onto the top of the eggs. It must be noted, that this takes some practice, and is fraught with obvious dangers!

With the eggs close to done they should be shifted to one side and the sliced tomatoes laid in the oil where they will sizzle comfortably while you drink yet another cup of tea. (By this time you should be ready for a second pot).

Tomatoes do not take all that long, but as with much in life, it is up to you to decide when they are done – at which point they, along with the eggs, sausage, and bacon, should be placed on the plate while you fry the slices of bread in the remaining juices. It is a good idea to raise the temperature of the pan at this point, if only to ensure that the rest of the breakfast does not get cold.

You will know, as if by primal instinct, just when the bread is done, and at this point it might be prudent, seeing as you have to get to work anyway, to eat the meal, all the while gulping further quantities of tea, right on the kitchen counter – rather than messing up yet another surface which would have to be cleaned before you bolt out of the door having noticed your bus just rounding the corner ……

“….made the bus in seconds flat.
Found my way upstairs
and had a smoke
somebody spoke
and I went into a dream ……”
(Beatles 1967)

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