Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

Potato bread and swearing

It’s a battle up there with the likes of Ali vs Frazer or Liverpool vs Man U or Monsters Vs Aliens… Red or brown sauce with a fry?

I realise I’m going to alienate about half of my readership with this (all four of you), but I reckon brown sauce shouldn’t even be allowed in the same room when a fry-up is being consumed.

It’s not that I dislike HP sauce per se, but there’s a time and a place and Sunday mornings alongside bacon, potato bread and a fried egg isn’t that locale.


I also realise that I’m not going to change any brown sauce-afflicted minds with this but I’ll give you my American English’s two cents on this anyway.

You see, as the bacon and sausages are all salty, there’s little point in adding yet more saltiness with the addition of brown sauce. The two tastes cancel each other out and to boot, the brown sauce overpowers the subtlety of the egg and the starch. Ketchup, on the other hand, compliments rather than mauls the dish, the sweetness working as a counterpoint to the salty tang.

And as for people who don’t take any sauce at all with their fry… you need to reassess your life choices.

I know that my arguments are falling on deaf ears but I still had to make them. A short straw poll at work this week revealed that a surprising number of people would rather the brown than red when it comes to accentuating their full Irish. And as for the person who likes both… wise up (you know who you are).

Personally, I’m with Gordon Ramsey when it comes to the fry-ups: Ideally, you’d have someone else make it. After slaving over a hot pan, the shine of eating the eventual fry is lessened somewhat.

That said, I made a small fry on Sunday morning with home-made potato bread, a fried egg, a toasted slice of sour dough and some of that new Naked Bacon you might have spotted lining the supermarket fridges. Despite the fact that I made the potato bread from scratch, I almost passed out with the pleasure. I hadn’t had a fry in ages, which probably help my impromptu appreciation society.

Somehow though, with a gargantuan force of will, I managed not to pass out (a body doesn’t want to be falling around the kitchen in front of the family like he’s suffering from some culinary form of Stendhal Syndrome), although I confess that a small curse escaped my lips, as I tasted that first forkful of bacon, potato bread with runny egg yolk and a touch of red sauce. This curse, in turn, was immediately repeated by the smallest member of the clan (Anna is three) and of course, that meant Herself initiated a complaint procedure about my lapse into foul-mouthedness.


“I’m a passionate person!” I qualified. “I use passionate language.”

“Well, keep your passionate language to yourself,” Herself supplied. “And try to finish your breakfast without teaching the weans and more bad words.”

“I can’t guarantee anything when I’m eating passionate food.”

Thankfully the fry went down – lubricated with plenty of red sauce – without any further blue burbs erupting unbidden.

This recipe for potato bread is so simple and with so few ingredients, it hardly qualifies as a recipe. Still, it’s worth the effort, especially if you have any left-over buttery mash. You’ll also notice the plan is a little sketchy. That’s intentional, as you never really know how much mash you’re going to have until it’s left-over. Also, it’s better than anything you’ll buy in the shops.

• left over buttery mash (cold)
• plain flour (gluten free will work equally as well)
• salt and white pepper

Say, for argument sake you have 500g of leftover mash. In that case you’re gonna need about 100g of flour. But basically, I’ll tip the mash into a large bowl and add the flour, mix, add more flour, mix until it starts resembling a potato dough. Then I take a small handful and squeeze. If it sticks together and it’s not too spuddy, it’ll do. Add some salt and pepper and mix through.

Put a large frying pan on a medium heat. As that’s heating, take a handful of the virginal potato bread mix and roll out on a floured surface. They can be as thick as you like (there’s no rules) but the thicker the farl, the longer it’ll take to cook.

Add these flat scones, three at a time, to a DRY non-stick pan and cook for about three minutes on either side (I actually couldn’t tell you how long I cooked them for but I cooked and turned and cooked and turned until they looked nice and golden). Keep going until all the potato mix is used up.

You could eat these things as they are (I often do), or with a little butter they are irresistible.

But add the potato scones to the fry equation and they take on a different level of magnificence.
With lots of red sauce, obviously.

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