How to make the perfect fry-up

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The great British fry-up -- or the "full English," "full breakfast" or "Ulster fry"-- is the ultimate greasy, guilty pleasure. No room for crunchy vegetables and fresh fruit here; the fry-up is for those prepared to ignore their health for a delicious moment. The exact elements of the perfect fry-up vary.


Sausages, eggs, bacon, beans, fried bread and black pudding are common essentials. Optional extras include potato waffles, potato bread, mushrooms and tomatoes. The key is timing. For example, if you put the eggs on too early they turn to rubber. But, get the timing right and you're on the way to a perfect fry-up.


Your fry-up is doomed before you begin if you don't have the right equipment. Thankfully, the tools include nothing more complicated than a frying pan and a spatula. The perfect fry up involves cooking all of the ingredients in the same large pan, according to food critic Tony Naylor in The Guardian. Of course, if you're cooking for more than one hungry person, you'll need several pans. Try frying the bacon and sausages in one pan, and the eggs, tomato and black pudding in another. Beans are the one exception. These cook best in a small pot.

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Sausages and bacon

The sausages take the longest to cook, so start these first. But, don't be tempted to prick them with a fork, allowing tasty juices to escape. That advice is a relic of the war years when the high water content of sausages led to burst links. Instead, turn them regularly in a well-oiled frying pan at a medium-low heat for up to 20 minutes. Bacon takes less time, around 3 to 4 minutes on each side. You want the fat to turn golden and crackly, while leaving the meat tender and moist.

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Eggs and black pudding

Black pudding, a sausage made from congealed pigs blood, is next. It tastes much better than it sounds. A thick slice of black pudding needs 4 to 5 minutes on each side over a medium heat, according to sous chef Greg Austin. The perfect fry-up includes fried eggs, sunny-side up with enough runny yolk to dip a crust of toast into. If cooking in a separate pan to the meat, get the oil hot before cracking the eggs. Drizzle a little hot oil over the top of the egg with a spoon helps cook the very top of the yolk.

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Bread and beans

Beans are perhaps the most straightforward part of the fry-up. Open up a tin, pour the contents into a pan and cook on a low heat until bubbling slightly. Make sure to stir regularly and avoid over-cooking. Die-hard fry-up aficionados swear by fried bread. Place trimmed triangles of bread into the hot fat and oil from the sausages and bacon pan. The bread will soak up all of that tasty sausage and bacon juice. Cook until sizzling and lightly golden.

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Putting it all together

The elements of a perfect fry-up should sit snugly together on a plate. Don't stack them on top of each other. If your bread is fried, it can go onto the plate -- but make sure it doesn't touch the beans or it gets soggy. If you're serving toast, keep it on a separate plate or a toast rack. The classic condiments to serve alongside the fry-up are tomato ketchup and brown sauce. All that's left to do is sit down and enjoy the mighty full breakfast with a cup of milky tea and a newspaper.

Related: How to make the perfect Sunday roast

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