Eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes and two crispy slices of rye – oh my. Our favourite swearing chef shows us how to do a healthy full English.
An healthy full English breakfast might not sound like the likeliest of creations. But it really is possible to take the UK’s best-loved calorie-filled meal and make it good for you. Many of the bare ingredients are actually quite healthy – eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes all make great breakfast options. Most of the fat is added in the cooking process, so if you grill it instead, it’s easy. Even the salty bacon is OK in moderation, if you ditch that frying pan.
- Olive oil, to brush and drizzle
- 4 portobello mushrooms, cleaned
- 300g vine-ripened cherry tomatoes
- Sea salt and black pepper
- 16 rashers of smoked back bacon
- 8 large eggs
- Dash of white wine vinegar
- 8 slices of rye bread, toasted
Preheat the grill to the highest setting. Half-fill a wide, shallow pan with water and bring to a simmer. Line a large (or two small) baking sheet(s) with foil, then brush over with a little olive oil.
Trim the mushrooms, removing their stalks, then lay, cap side down, on the baking sheet. Place the vine tomatoes alongside. Drizzle over a little olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Lay the bacon rashers in a single layer on the baking sheet (the second one if using two). Place under the grill for 5 minutes until the mushrooms are tender and the bacon is golden brown around the edges.
To poach the eggs, break each one into a cup or ramekin. Add a dash of vinegar to the pan of simmering water. Whisk the water in a circular motion to create a whirlpool effect. Gently slide the eggs into the centre of the whirlpool, one at a time, then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Poach for 1½ minutes if the eggs were at room temperature, or 2 minutes if they were straight from the fridge. The whites will have set but the yolks should still be runny in the middle.
Divide the bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes and rye toasts between warm serving plates. Carefully lift out each poached egg with a slotted spoon, dab the bottom of the spoon with kitchen paper to absorb any excess water and slide onto a rye toast. Grind some pepper over the eggs and serve at once.
Top tip for this healthy full English breakfast
Now, we know the constituent elements of a full English are hotly contested, and that many will not consider this 'full' without one or several of the following: sausage, beans, chips, hash browns, black pudding and fried bread. But if you are counting the calories, this is a good, balanced approximation. That said, if there's something that absolutely makes the meal for you, consider adding it - ideally in a smaller portion, cooked with as little fat as possible. If you want beans, choose the no added salt and sugar variety. If a sausage is a must, try a slim chipolata instead of a huge banger. You can offset some of the extra calories by using bacon medallions instead of full rashers.