A Full 'New English' Breakfast
Maple and molasses Boston baked beans, sautéed mushrooms with shallots and thyme, and cider-brined Vermont smoked bacon come together in this New England interpretation of a beloved British tradition.
We recently got back from a trip to London, and although I tend to be a croissant and coffee kind of girl, there are few better ways to begin a morning in the UK than tucking into a full English breakfast (especially when arriving at an ungodley hour on a red-eye from the States).
Known colloquially as a proper 'fry-up', this hearty meal typically consists of fried or scrambled eggs, plump sausages, grilled mushrooms, juicy fried tomatoes and tangy baked beans, as well as a few quintessentially British staples such as savory black pudding (a type of blood sausage made with pork and oats), rashers of crispy back bacon (cut from both the belly and loin and similar to Canadian bacon) and buttery, crunchy fried bread (exactly what it sounds like).
It's a menu that naturally lends itself to interpretation, and my 'New English' take on this beloved British tradition showcases our regional ingredients and cuisine. Featuring tangy Boston baked beans cooked with maple syrup and molasses, sautéed wild mushrooms with shallots and thyme, and apple cider-brined Vermont smoked bacon, it's the perfect start to a chilly New England weekend.
A Full New English Breakfast
For each person, allow
- Two farm fresh eggs
- Two slices of hearty multi-grain bread
- Two rashers of apple cider-brined bacon
- Two plump pork sausages
- One slice of country ham
- 1/4 cup of wild mushrooms, cleaned, stems trimmed and sliced
- One tablespoon of chopped shallot
- One teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme
- Two to three ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup of maple molasses Boston baked beans, made at least one day prior (recipe below)
- A knob of sweet butter and a splash of olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 200°F. Brush a grill pan or heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) with a bit of oil and heat to medium high. Add the sausages and bacon and cook until done. Add the ham and brown on both sides. Transfer the meat to a baking pan, cover and place in the oven to keep warm.
While the meat is cooking, heat the baked beans in a sauce pan and make the sautéed mushrooms. Combine equal parts of butter and olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5-8 minutes until soft and browned. Add the thyme and cook one minute more. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to platter, tenting with foil to keep warm.
Drain the fat from the grill pan and heat to medium high. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and pepper and cook, face down, until browned but still firm. Transfer to the platter and tent with foil to keep warm.
Brush the grill pan with butter and add the bread. Fry for 2 minutes on each side until crisp and brown, adding more butter if necessary.
While the bread is frying, melt a bit of butter and olive oil in the skillet over medium heat. Crack the eggs into the skillet, season with salt and pepper and cover with a lid. Turn off the heat, but leave the skillet on the stove. Remove the eggs from the pan as soon as the white has set but while the yolks are still runny.
While the eggs are cooking, assemble the meat, mushrooms, tomatoes and beans on the platter. Top with the eggs and bread and serve at once.
Cultivating wild mushrooms at home is surprisingly easy and requires neither a garden nor a green thumb thanks to a variety of "grow kits" available on the market today. A few of my favorite New England purveyors ship nationwide, including Funghi Ally of Hadley, Massachusetts; MoTown Mushrooms of Morristown, Vermont; and North Spore of Portland, Maine.
Maple Molasses Boston Baked Beans
- One pound of dried navy beans
- Two bay leaves
- One onion, quartered
- Two large carrots, halved
- Two stalks of celery
- Two cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1/2 pound of salt pork, trimmed and cut into 1/2" cubes
- One cup of diced sweet onion
- Two cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup of molasses
- One tablespoon of country mustard
- One tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce (I love Beast Feast Maine's Apple Bourbon BBQ sauce, and especially love that they donate a portion of their profits to local food pantries)
- 1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Add beans to a large stock pot, cover with cold water and refrigerate overnight or at least six hours.
Drain and rinse the beans, then return to the pot together with the quartered onion, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaf and a pinch of salt. Cover with fresh water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the beans are tender, approximately 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°F. While the beans are simmering, cook the salt pork in a dutch oven over medium heat until the fat has rendered. Add the diced onion and cook for 8-10 minutes until golden. Add the garlic and cook one minute more. Add the maple syrup, molasses, mustard, vinegar, BBQ sauce and cloves and stir to combine. Add a ladle of the hot bean-cooking liquid to the pot. Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat for 5-10 minutes, stiring constantly, until the molasses is completely dissolved.
When the beans are tender, drain, taking care to reserve the cooking liquid. Discard the aromatics. Add the beans to the dutch oven together with just enough of the cooking liquid to cover, stiring thoroughly to combine. Transfer to oven and bake for 5-6 hours until the liquid has reduced to a thick syrup, stirring occasionally and adding additional reserved liquid if necessary to keep the beans from drying out. If the beans are too watery, the lid may be removed during the last hour of cooking.