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How to prepare and serve English rasher bacon?

I bought some English rasher bacon for the first time at a specialty market. The counter person helping me wasn't that knowledgeable and the head butcher was busy, so I couldn't inquire about usage. I believe this rasher bacon comes from the loin, so it is much leaner and more of a round shape than streaky American bacon. It has the look and texture of ham, and I believe it's cooked through since I had a bite.

So how should I prepare this? From some initial web searching, I'm thinking I should fry it like regular bacon. I suppose I'll need to use some fat and press a bit since it has the reputation of curling up on the sides, and I want it nicely browned.

What should I serve it with? I don't know much about English breakfasts, but I have the image of a ploughman's breakfast in my head...eggs, bacon, potatoes (or beans?), tomatoes? I definitely have lots of tomatoes to use up. Are the tomatoes roasted whole or what? Are the potatoes usually in hash brown form or diced or?

Please help me put a nice little Sun. brunch feast together to showcase this rasher bacon. Thanks!

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  1. I always thought rasher bacon was the other stuff - like our bacon or what the Brits call "streaky bacon." But in any event, what you've got is what we call Canadian bacon (and the Canadians call back or pea bacon, IIRC.) I though the Brits just called that plain old bacon, but what do I know?

    Like ham "steaks", it's either cooked or cured so all you want to do is heat it through and, if you like, let it get a bit brown in spots. But it will turn dry, crispy and nasty very quickly, so be careful.

    I've never heard of beans as part of the middle class version of a "classic English breakfast", though beans on toast is, or used to be, a big children's/comfort food/economizing teatime or supper dish. But grilled/broiled tomato halves and enough toast to choke a horse would definitely qualify as "authentic." It's been a long time since I was England, I don't even remember if I had potatoes or not. But oh, yes, sausage, too.

    Then there's all that kippers, kidneys, etc business if you really want to go all out...

    1. the full "fry-up" would be this bacon,along with sausages, griddled rounds of both black and white pudding, maybe mushrooms and a half grilled tomato, eggs, and beans and toast. when i was visiting a friend in glasgow, we'd get these breakfast kits from a butcher with rashers of bacon, the black and white pudding, sausages, and eggs. it would also come with these flat griddle cakes, which they call potato scones. the butcher told us one day that he was out of the little cans of baked beans, but still had some spaghettios. spaghettios! for breakfast!

      anyways i'm not sure how readily available good black or white pudding is, but i'd at least get some nice sausages to go with your bacon. and fry those tomatoes up, too.

      1. I just had the "King Size" breakfast at a British pub this morning and it included:

        -something that sounded a lot like your rashers, fried up like bacon and draped around a banger/sausage.
        -potatoes, cubed and fried with onions like home fries
        -Heinz baked beans
        -two slices of tomatoes, grilled or pan fried til slightly blackened around the edges
        -sauteed button mushrooms
        -plenty of toast
        -eggs over easy

        A pot of tea and some blood sausage on the side was perfect for two.

        1. I've never been served beans on toast or white/black pudding for breakfast in England (this spans a period from the mid 60's to the present). The typical English breakfast includes crispy fried eggs, thick toast, bangers, English bacon (which is not like U.S. bacon or Canadian bacon), broiled tomato, maybe sauteed mushrooms. Extremely yummy!

          1. The new multicultural Britain notwithstanding, there are differences when it comes to think as basic as breakfast food.;) The second breakfast sounds suspiciously Irish, rather than English, and dear god, you can expect anything from the culture that brought use deep-fried Mars bars.LOL

            Can you describe this "English bacon"? Is it loin or belly? Is it a relatively subtle difference or a major one?

            5 Replies
            1. re: MikeG

              i'm not sure if by "the second breakfast" you were referring to my post, but yes, these breakfasts were eaten in ireland and scotland, not in england.

              1. re: augustiner

                yeah, a "traditional" irish breakfast is eggs (whatever style), french fries or home fries, bacon (rashers), irish sausage, black pudding, white pudding and toast. sometimes you get a fried tomato, sometimes not. beans are usually on the side and ordered separately.
                you can get even more specific--like an ulster fry would be served with some changes to the above and the addition of potato bread!

                1. re: ceeceee

                  The name for potato bread is potato farl. This is made from mashed potato and flour, rolled out and baked on a bakestone or heavy frying pan. Eaten when hot with butter. Wonderful.

                  1. re: Cakehole

                    i absolutely love it as well. and so simple.

              2. re: MikeG

                The bacon I was served most frequently in England was definitely from the belly, but not exactly the same cut as we have in the U.S. You have to remove the rind and a little tiny round bone before you eat it.

              3. Ah, OK, thanks. It's not at all common here, but I've seen it, I think labelled rib bacon (which is what those little round bones would most likely be, bits of the end of the ribs.)

                1. English breakfasts will include all the things listed above -

                  eggs (cooked anyway, but generally fried. I don't know about "crispy fried"!)

                  bacon - either streaky (belly) or back (loin). Streaky is much nicer.


                  grilled or fried black pudding (sometimes)


                  and either:

                  tomatoes (grilled or fried fresh ones are best, but sometimes people use tinned)

                  Or baked beans (popular, but I find them too "claggy" for a fry up).

                  Toast or fried bread are essential

                  Fried potatoes not very often served, but are delicious when they are.

                  Scotland, Ireland and Wales are pretty much the same, but will have variations depending where you are - such as potato cakes, soda bread, haggis, ulster fry etc

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Theresa

                    cold, hard toast on a rack...it's a mystery why I love it, but I do...spread with cold butter.
                    now, I do know why I love the fried bread...in bacon grease, no mystery there.

                  2. Thanks for everyone's input. Unfortunately, I got indigestion just reading the responses so reverted to my Californian tendencies to "lighten." I told my husband he'd be getting the California professor breakfast, not English ploughman.

                    I decided to go w/ layering the lightly-browned rasher bacon on top of a toasted English muffin (crumpet?) w/ cheddar cheese and a fried egg. Tried to find English cheddar, but ended up w/ Wisconsin instead. I did manage to serve grilled tomatoes on the side though! A really, really tasty brunch and the tomatoes really cut through the heavy main. The bacon pretty much tasted like ham but w/ a firmer texture.

                    Not close to traditional, but at least I left the avocado or arugula out! :-)

                    Photo of the rasher bacon:

                    Close up of the layers:

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Carb Lover

                      well it looks delicious anyways. i was wondering where you got the bacon, if it was in SF? was it fresh or frozen?

                      1. re: augustiner

                        Got it fresh from Dittmer's in Mountain View for just under $10/lb. To be honest, at that price, I'd rather buy the Fatted Calf bacon.

                        To ali patts: Hmmm...I thought I've heard of ploughman breakfast before in the US; sorry for any confusion.

                        1. re: Carb Lover

                          thanks. sometimes i wish i had a car, so i could easily access all the yumminess outside of SF proper. maybe i can order....

                      2. re: Carb Lover

                        Please stop with the 'ploughman' reference it's very confusing. English breakfast is a full English or a fry up. Ploughmans tends to be for lunch and consists of bread, cheese and pickle, clearly something else entirely!

                      3. Other things to consider: smoked or not (green), thick or thin cut? To my mind streaky bacon is not really for breakfast. It is also important to buy dry cure as the commercial stuff is pumped up with water and nasties. We used to get a cut here which was called 'Long back' which was the loin and the streaky bit but I have not seen this for some time. Another thing to consider is buying the bacon with the rind on as it is lovely when it crisps up. If you are in Wales you might get Lava bread which is seaweed boiled up and made into little cakes and fried. Our sausages are different from yours as they contain rusk which lightens them, we have hundreds to choose from and I like mine herby with course cut meat in them. Grilled kidneys are good but black pudding is a must (fried crispy).

                        Where you eat it makes a difference, during the summer I have breakfast on the terrace of a little cafe by the sea after which my dog and I go walking for the day and don't eat again until the evening. Not many things are better than that (except last week I was also picking blackberries on the beach and picking sloes for sloe gin)