The doorbell rings.
I’m not expecting anyone or anything but, lo and behold, there is a man at my door bearing gifts (woohoo, I’m all for that!) – a basket of Denny sausages, rashers, ham and 2 still-warm, foil-wrapped breakfast rolls to be precise.
…or at least it would have been if I was given to eating porky products. As it is, I haven’t done so for a long time and, when baskets of same come my way (this being precisely the first time this has happened), I swiftly pass them on to family members who are only too happy to accept.
I suppose Denny weren’t to know. They were just drawing attention to the results of their “Home Is” campaign, where they surveyed people on their thoughts about what makes a home and, as part of the deal, donated funds to The Simon Communities of Ireland, longtime champions of the homeless in this country. Good on them for that.
The delivery got me thinking, not so much about home, though, as about breakfast rolls.
For those of you not familiar with this classic item of Irish cuisine, just imagine yourself with a hangover and picture a white bread roll filled, more or less, with the contents of a full Irish breakfast: sausages and rashers at a minimum, sometimes black pudding, sometimes white pudding, sometimes egg, sometimes mushrooms and sometimes hash browns, plus ketchup or brown sauce. Best washed down with a big mug of tea.
They are a staple at hot food counters in garages and supermarkets the length and breadth of the country and are the stereotypical early-in-the-day meal of choice for Irish construction workers (even to the point of economist David McWilliams coining the phrase “Breakfast Roll Man” to describe a representative of that now much rarer construction worker species).
Breakfast rolls have even been immortalised in song:
Far from the healthiest things in the world, they are precisely the kind of thing you might want if you were feeling a little the worse for wear in the a.m. And while I might not be given to partaking in the classic breakfast roll these days, that’s not to say that there aren’t times when I fancy something breakfast-roll-like. When that happens, I might just make something like this:
Egg and Mushroom Breakfast Roll
The recipe for a breakfast roll may be summarised as follows: “Stuff whatever fried objects you’d like for breakfast into a crusty bread roll”. In this case, the fried objects are pieces of shredded omelette and a mushroom, garlic and onion mix. For more detailed instructions, should you need them, see below.
- butter for frying and for spreading on the bread roll(s)
- 75g onion (about half a medium-sized onion), sliced into fine half rings
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- small pinch of dried thyme
- 100g mushrooms (I used a mix of chestnut and oyster mushrooms), wiped clean and sliced
- 1 egg
- 2 tblsp chopped flat leaf parsley
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tblsp finely grated parmesan
- 1 baguette / crusty bread roll, around 25cm long (or use 2 smaller rolls)
You’ll also need:
- 2 frying pans, one small (around 20cm diameter) for cooking the egg and a larger one (mine was around 24cm) for the onions and mushrooms.
- Place the larger frying pan over a medium heat and, when hot, add about 1 tblsp butter and allow to melt.
- Add the onions to the pan and stir and fry for around 6-8 minutes, or until they have softened and are starting to develop brown spots.
- Add the garlic and thyme and stir and fry for another minute or so.
- If the pan is very dry at this point, you can add a little more butter, then add the mushrooms.
- Fry (but avoid stirring too much), allowing the mushrooms to brown on the pan. The mushrooms will release some liquid (how much will vary, depending on the mushrooms used). Continue to fry until there is very little liquid left, maybe around 8-10 minutes in total.
- While the mushrooms are frying, break the egg into a small bowl and whisk lightly. Stir in half of the chopped parsley and season with a little salt and a couple of twists of black pepper.
- Place your small frying pan over a medium-high heat and, when hot, add about a tsp of butter and allow to melt.
- Now add your beaten egg, swirl it around the pan, then fry for 2-3 minutes, until there is no liquid egg left. Turn the omelette, sprinkle with the parmesan and cook for another 2 minutes or so.
- Remove from the heat and slice the omelette into thin strips, around 0.5cm wide.
- When the mushrooms and onions are done, remove from the heat, season with some salt and black pepper and stir in the remaining parsley.
- Now split your bread roll(s), butter as liberally as you desire, and stuff with the shredded omelette, mushrooms and onions. Enjoy with a big mug of tea.
- Of course you can add some good ketchup or other condiments of your choice – whatever it is you like with your eggy, mushroomy breakfast.
- If I were feeling a bit more Asian, I’d skip the thyme and parmesan, replace the parsley with fresh coriander leaves, add some grated ginger to the onions and mushrooms, season with soy sauce instead of salt and spread some sweet chili sauce on the bread. I might need to go and do that right now in fact.
- Breakfast roll for one if you’re very hungry or for two if you feel like sharing.