Nothing beats an Ulster Fry for breakfast any day or indeed to aid recovery after over indulging on a night out! This morning, ahead of Farmhouse Breakfast Week, I was treated to a cookery demonstration from Head Chef, James Bell at St. George’s Market Bar & Grill. All the ingredients were carefully sourced from the best local suppliers at St. George’s Market itself.
Julia Bailey from Pheasant Hill Farm, the suppliers of the bacon,sausages and black and white pudding for our feast was there to explain how their products truly are far superior to what we buy in the supermarket or indeed in other farm shops. It was explained how their pigs are reared & fed to ensure top quality meat and humane treatment.
We watched, mouths watering as chef cooked the traditional produce in one frying pan in a minimal amount of rape seed oil. We discussed with him how it is a healthy breakfast in comparison to the sugar loaded, processed cereals we buy.
I must say, it was probably the best Ulster Fry I’ve tasted …after my mother’s of course!
Find out how to make the Ulster’s Ultimate Fry at St George’s Market Bar & Grill
It’s the meal that made Ulster. The traditional fry up that set up millions for a day of hard work or play.
Two fried eggs, the all-important lightly browned potato and soda bread, perfect pork sausages, crispy bacon, black and white pudding and a juicy red tomato– a great start to any day.
It’s also the perfect recovery the morning after an evening of over indulging in the legendary Ulster hospitality.
But getting an Ulster Fry just right is a very delicate art.
Ahead of Farmhouse Breakfast Week, one of Belfast’s top restaurant’s, St George’s Market Bar & Grill, is seeking to teach people how to cook Ulster’s favourite dish by launching an easy-to-follow guide.
Head Chef James Bell stresses the importance of using the right ingredients to get the perfect end result. He said: “The Ulster Fry has always been one of our top selling meals at the restaurant – and one which we are very proud to serve.
“Tourists and locals flock to us on a Friday and Saturday for an Ulster Fry – and we are continually asked for tips on creating the dish, which is why we have launched this easy to follow guide.
“The secret is using the absolute best quality products available to us – we have sampled and selected the very best, local suppliers all available right on our door step at St George’s Market.
“You won’t find cut-price sausages, supermarket breads or any second-rate ingredients. What you will find is the best Ulster produce, cooked to perfection.
“The real skill in a great end result is cooking the entire meal in the one pan, thus securing and sealing the flavour throughout the whole cooking process.
‘Timing and preparation is the key — play around and see how you like your breakfast and adjust your timing accordingly.
‘So to get your bacon crispy, your sausages brown, your breads crispy and not dripping in oil and your tomatoes firm not soggy, follow our guide to mastering the ultimate Ulster Fry.”
We Pan Fry in cold pressed rape seed oil, its clean, taste free and has an extremely high burning point which is important when cooking all of your ingredients in one pan.
Rapeseed oil has the benefit of having numerous health benefits (50 per cent more healthy than olive oil, high in heart healthy mono & polyunsaturated fats Omega 3,6 &9, contains plant sterols – thought to contribute to help lower cholesterol, high in Vitamin E, which is great for the skin).
It is best to place your large heavy based frying pan on a low and slow heat, producing a light sizzle, and above all you do not want your oil spitting.
You want to thoroughly cook your ingredients which take time.
In order of importance, the humble banger many believe is the centre of your Ulster Fry dish.
We source our sausages, bacon, black and white puddings from local, free-range farm Pheasants Hill – their ethical approach to farming, combined with flavour is second-to-none.
Julia Bailey, owner of Killinchy-based Pheasant Hill Farm said: “The way we rear our stock is completely natural, 100 per cent sustainably and without the use of pesticides or chemicals. The way we produce our meat is good for you – wholesome, naturally reared and packed full of flavour – which is so important and the basis for any meal.”
James continued, “So, begin with your small drizzle of rapeseed oil in the pan, when it’s hot, place your two sausages in gently, turning occasionally to colour all the way round for a nice even flavour, do this for approximately eight minutes.
Bacon is next in the pan. Bacon, if will add a brilliant flavour (and smell) that is hard to beat.
Add two rashers of bacon to the pan – we use thick-cut back bacon, as it’s less fatty than streaky, but everyone has their preferences.
Don’t flip your bacon too early, wait for the colour to appear on the edges first. Colour = flavour
If you’re after something a bit healthier, grilling it is a good option. Either way, cook it until it’s crispy, but not brown and burnt.
Above all, this is what sets the humble fry up apart from the famous Ulster Fry – the breads.
Perfectly prepared potato bread, made as our grandparents would have in their parlour kitchen and of course the wonderfully sumptuous soda bread.
This is what many of our visitors say they miss most when they leave Northern Ireland – the potato and soda bread.
We source our bread from Chrissie, a local baker and stall-holder at the Market who uses old-fashioned, recipes using butter milk, delivered from the local milk man, all hand-made, on her farm on Ballymacashen road in Killinchy
These two are your next ingredients to add, place them in the pan to absorb the wonderful flavours. The soda will soak up the delicious favours and the potato bread will brown on the outside and soften wonderfully the in the middle.
If you can buy them on the vine do so, as they retain their firmness and flavour for longer, and delicious on your plate.
We are spoilt for choice with the stall holders at the market, a juicy red tomato not only adds colour to your plate but also a real contrast in flavour.
Tomatoes should always be a little crispy. There’s nothing worse than a soggy tomato sulking on your plate.
This will be achieved if you place them alongside your breads and cook for several minutes.
BLACK AND WHITE PUDDINGS
Love them or hate them, they have become a firm staple of our version of the Ulster Fry.
The Black Pudding is an acquired taste, but the flavour and texture is so rich and interesting and a real favourite.
White pudding is very similar to black pudding, but does not include blood. Consequently, it consists of pork meat and fat, suet, bread, and oatmeal formed into the shape of a large sausage and sliced.
It is definitely worth paying more for a good pudding as there is no comparison in taste. Again, ours are sourced from St George’s market stall holders Pheasant Hill Farm.
Pop both your black and white pudding in the pan and continue to cook everything for a couple more minutes – after 2-3 minutes, flip everything over.
Two perfect ‘runny’ eggs for me are the perfect complement to the dish – however, everyone has their own preference.
After a further 2 minutes cooking, move all the ingredients into a warmed oven, on a warmed plate to keep hot while you quickly clean your pan.
You want fresh oil to fry your eggs.
Crack two large free-range eggs into your pan, pop a lid on to cook the top, and voila!
THE ULTIMATE ULSTER FRY
James concluded, “The beauty of the Ulster Fry is that it can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. But while eating one is one of life’s delights, cooking one perfectly is no easy task, which is why we have produced this easy-to-follow guide.”
For the full easy to follow guide visit www.stgeorgesbargrill.com or the restaurant’s dedicated Facebook page.