The best breakfast on these islands – Wild smoked salmon, poached eggs and potato cakes.

poached eggs and potato cakes (1 of 10)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.

Can you see the knife through the slice? That's perfectly cut.

Can you see the knife through the slice? That’s perfectly cut.

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.

Yesterday's cold mashed potatoes don't really strike a quality note. Trust me on this one.

Yesterday’s cold mashed potatoes don’t really strike a quality note. Trust me on this one.

There is no way around this but to get the hands in and mix until combined.

This is a messy part of the project. Think of the end result and mix.

This is a messy part of the project. Think of the end result and mix.

Once combined, roll out on a floured surface.

Roll them thin enough to cook through, thick enough to have a bit of bite.

Roll them thin enough to cook through, thick enough to have a bit of bite.

Cut the potato cakes into shapes, remembering you will be balancing an egg on top.

For no reason at all, I like this photo. These are such a simple pleasure.

For no reason at all, I like this photo. These are such a simple pleasure.

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.

Perfect potato cakes. They have to be eaten straight from the pan.

Perfect potato cakes. They have to be eaten pretty well straight from the pan.

Poach the eggs while the potato cakes are cooking.

Pastry cutting rings make poaching the eggs pretty simple.

Pastry cutting rings make poaching the eggs pretty simple.

When the eggs and potato cakes are cooked, assemble the Perfect Irish Breakfast as shown in the photo below.

A bit of black pepper and a sprig of parsley bring it all together. They're the colour of the Irish flag.

A bit of black pepper and a sprig of parsley bring it all together. They’re the colour of the Irish flag.

Don’t wait around to photo the breakfast, eat it like I did.

No time for any more photos, this perfect Irish breakfast is now part of folklore.

No time for any more photos, this perfect Irish breakfast is now part of folklore.

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.

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  • Wonderful, Conor, and such great eye for detail. You even timed this post perfectly (well, for these parts of the world anyway). I may actually try this for a dinner appetizer (just a single egg per person) as here on the continent breakfast is of little consequence (and for Kees consists of coffee only, as you know).

    • The continental approach to breakfast (and particularly Kees’) leaves me cold. Do try this, even as a starter. Perhaps with quail egg?

  • My, my why did i start reading this with my Bran Flakes next to me.

  • Oh my! That’s sounds and seems completely delicious. And what a great trick to keep poached eegs perfectly round! Love it.

    • I do so little baking, I have to make use of them somehow.

  • Oh boy, those full breakfasts are something , we have many similar versions in the U.S. I love your version, it’s a little more appealing to me. Thanks for showing us how to slice the salmon.

    • Hi Getlinde, happy to help where I can. Thanks for the kind words.

  • When does the Conor Bofin B&B open to customers? Can you book me in please?

    • The prospect of all that laundry and fussy breakfast eating hiking types fills me with dread. You are welcome any time.

  • Brilliant use of left over mash. Will do next time instead of English Muffins. Thanks Conner.

    • Great to hear from you Ed. I was enviously following your cruise adventures. Obviously, you are back to reality if you are thinking about left over mash.
      Best,
      Conor

      • Re-reading this I must admit – never made the potatoe cake with levy over mash. We have experienced the full Irish (sans blood pudding) because our son-in-law is from Donegal. There is always a “fry-up” as he calls it when he’s visiting. So good.

        • Thanks Ed,
          The big fry is great. This little preparation is a bit more finessed. However, I eat more big fry breakfasts than I do this. That’s the honest truth. I hope all goes well with you.
          Best,
          Conor

  • Fabulous…wonderful looking salmon….beautiful photography…loved the whole thing EXCEPT…poaching eggs in those horrid rings! I have a thing about those rings ever since the spiky haired celebrity chef ( name forgotten as with nearly every other name) used them for serving up his recipes, so that everything was in a horridly neat round pile…I’m sure the eggs were delicious, however, as the colour is wonderful:)

    • The one who spent his time trying to look like Nigel Kennedy? Gary Rhodes, if memory serves me.
      They do a job and allow poaching for a mob without having to eat in shifts. I am as bald as a coot so there is no chance of me spiking the hair. I will probably continue with the rings. Being Irish, I won’t qualify for the OBE like what Rhodes did, rings or no. 😄

  • Are you open every day??? : ) joking aside, everything looks amazing, not only the food but even the way you presented the food! What a great way to start a new day!

    • I promise, I don’t start every day this way. I wish….

  • Delicious indeed! You’ve got one up on us with the Clonakilty, but it is growing in popularity here – to my mind it beats all English black pudding (everything I’ve tried so far) hands down 😉

    • We do that MD. Though, there are many other small producers dotted around Ireland, making excellent blood sausages.

      • Most of my friends come from Cork – they won’t let me try the others 🙂

  • Delicious.

  • I especially love “the colour of the Irish flag” bit! Looks scrumptious!

    • That’s the truth of it Deirdre. Simple ingredients, simply prepared.

  • I’ve never heard breakfast in Wales called the full Welsh, but this looks delicious. I mean. Wow. I’m so impressed by the presentation.

  • I love a good breakfast, and this sounds fabulous Conor. When are you popping round to serve this up please? Just so that I know in good time to get the tea brewed up

  • Woaaaah

  • Reading this over coffee in bed at 6.30am, both the Husband and I exclaimed “Phwoaaarrrr!” at the final photo. One day…. We grow spuds, so potato cakes are easy, we’re getting our own chickens pretty soon, and Tasmania does some sensational wild salmon, so it’ll be on for one and all when it all comes together. I think it’s going to have to be a nice boiled egg and soldiers for breakfast, just to hold me till then….

    • “Phwoaarrrr” pretty well covers it Kate. Thank you!

  • Give me this for breakfast over a Full *Insert one of the four nations here* Breakfast any day Conor. Love it. Having travelled and worked often in Ireland, I’m very fond of the potato cake.

    • Next time you are over Phil, give us a shout. The welcome mat is bever far from the door.

  • Oh my goodness gracious! This breakfast is fit for a king!

    • The King might have had a deep fried banana and jelly sandwich. This was reserved for me.

  • Coming from a gal who still eats a ‘full Scandinavian breakfast’ of mostly herring, eel or cheese or calves tongue on black bread even after all the years Down Under the ‘full Irish breakfast’ sounds just great!!

    • Eha, you are a disgrace! But, I’ll admit, it has it’s place.

      • Have just curtsied with the biggest smile on my face 🙂 !! And I really do like yours!

  • Absolutely delightful, delicious-looking breakfast. I am amazed you took the time to snap that last photo! 😀

    • I reached around either side of the tripod to get it, dripping egg yolk on the camera as I scoffed it straight afterwards.

  • Looks great!

  • Now, that’s how to poach eggs – I’m stealing the ring method fella! Great looking breakfast….

    • Thanks Rory. Steal away. Just dont steal my ones.

  • The ring method is a touch of genius. An idea which I will be nicking! Your breakfast looks perfect.Those potato cakes looks so light and fluffy. As to the full English/Welsh/Irish unless it has fried bread served with it, then it is not worth the calories.

    • I love a bit of fried bread but the guilt gets the better of me most times.

  • What a beautiful breakfast. This is seriously what I would eat if given the choice of anything! Beautiful carving skills (i’d like to make my own smoked salmon one day soon) and those potato cakes look amazing. Come cook for me!

    • Amanda, Thanks for the kindness. I would love to skip over to NY and become your personal chef. However, the Wife reads the comments and I am now in trouble. Big trouble!
      Best,
      Conor

      • Ha. Well my dad reads mine too (on my blog) and he’ll call me and be like “I don’t like the way that man talks to you” (not you,lol..he actually likes you and MD). I tell him not to worry.

        • I promise to behave myself. Tell your Dad not to fret.
          Best,
          Conor

  • I was not much of a breakfast eater until health reasons has made me become one…I would have started long ago had I seen a breakfast like this,Conor!

    • Hi Tonette,
      One could do worse than start the day on this.

  • One of my fav breakfasts – cured salmon, I pretty often make it myself. I serve it on a slice of rye bread or with draniki (Russian rosti). Definitely will try your potato cakes next time! Thanks for sharing!
    And your carving skills is spectacular!

    • It would be lovely on rye, for sure. Thanks for the kind carving comment. Not every slice comes out like that one.

  • Reblogged this on alyssasdream and commented:
    I am so gonna try this.

  • Wow. Nothing better than salmon and eggs for breakfast. I can’t wait to try this for my family!

    • Hi Emma,
      It is very simple to prepare and delicious.
      Thanks for the kind words,
      Conor

  • Reblogged this on The Aran Artisan and commented:
    It may not be “The Full Irish”, but I’m with Conor on this one, it is the “Perfect Irish Breakfast.” I’ll be using our home grown spuds and fresh duck eggs. And now I know how to carve smoked salmon–Johnny’s brother gifts us one at Christmas most years. Don’t expect pictures tho; Conor’s finished dish is a work of art and you’re best left with that image, trust me.

  • Reblogged this on uvirfarms.

  • This looks incredible! I’ve just eaten and it’s nowhere near breakfast but i would eat this right now! X

    • Thanks Jessica. It’s a very tasty breakfast.
      Best,
      Conor

  • This is my favorite breakfast, but with an English muffin, I like your version I’ll try it soon!!

    • Hi Maya,
      The muffin would be lovely too. Do try it.
      C

  • Must try it soon! I love it all!

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