Traditional Scottish Breakfast: Morning Rolls and Fillings
A Brief Guide to Scottish Morning Rolls
Scottish morning rolls are a longtime breakfast tradition in Scotland. While the full Scottish breakfast may be eaten at weekends or on holidays, morning rolls are more likely to be incorporated in daily breakfasts before work. It used to be a huge tradition that someone in the household would fetch the newspaper and rolls in the morning for the family breakfast, but it is perhaps more likely in modern times that the filled roll will be bought from a baker's shop or similar on the way to work.
What Are Morning Rolls?
Morning rolls—usually simply called rolls—are a type of soft bread roll which are opened up, buttered if desired and incorporated with any number of chosen fillings. There are some who like their rolls soft and pale on the top, while others prefer their rolls well fired and crispy. A great many shops will, for this reason, offer a choice of the two and even perhaps a middle ground for the particularly discerning customer.
What Are Some Popular Fillings for the Rolls?
Morning rolls in Scotland today are eaten at any time of day and may include cold meat and salad for lunch, jam as a snack (particularly popular in days of old with children) or leftover roasted meats with pickle or mustard. There is no limit, really, to what can be used to fill a Scottish roll, but this article will look at some of the more popular breakfast options, which are also selected at other times of the day—particularly for lunch, by those who have skipped breakfast.
To Butter or Not to Butter?
It is certainly very common in Scotland in a traditional sense that butter firstly be added to the morning roll, irrespective of which filling is to follow. In more health-conscious times, many people are either using low-fat spreads made from olive or sunflower oil, margarine, or eliminating spreads altogether.
The choice is, of course, an individual one. Whatever else, there can be no disputing that traditional butter does impart that extra special bit of flavour.
Roll and Lorne Sausage
The Lorne sausage is a type of sausage unique to Scotland. It is blocks of prepared meat and spices, sliced and fried, hence the other frequent names of sliced sausage or square sausage. A roll and Lorne sausage is popular on its own, but other accompaniments are frequently added for a little bit of extra taste. Lorne sausages can be either fried or grilled.
With a Tattie Scone
A roll and sausage and tattie scone is a delicious concoction. The tattie (potato) scones will most often be bought premade in modern times, but they are fairly straightforward to make at home, once you have a bit of practice at rolling and handling what is the necessarily extremely wet dough. The precooked scones are fried along with the sausage for the last few minutes of its cooking time and served on top of the sausage before the top is placed on the roll.
With Fried Onions
Fried onions are also delicious on a roll and sausage. Fried onions will usually be served instead of a tattie scone and are again fried with the sausage, in this instance added to the pan at the same time as the sausage to ensure they are fully cooked down and soft. Raw onions can very successfully be substituted as a healthier and crunchier alternative.
Roll and Link Sausages
Link sausages are the more widely recognisable sausage type found in Scotland. Although link sausages (beef or pork) are occasionally eaten on rolls at breakfast time, they are nowhere near as popular in this respect as Lorne. Link sausages are more associated in Scotland with the traditional steak pie.
There are often two big mistakes made with cooking link sausages:
- Firstly, they should never be pricked (pierced) with a fork prior to cooking them, as this serves only to allow the moisture and the flavour to disappear in to the pan and make the sausages bland and dry.
- Secondly, in order to stop them bursting (this is what piercing is designed to achieve), they should simply be fried in a little oil over a very low heat for fifteen to twenty minutes, rather than a high one for a fraction of that time.
Roll and Bacon
Bacon in the UK is very different from many other parts of the world, particularly North America. This is for the simple reason that the meat is obtained from a different part of the pig. In the UK, bacon is from the back or side of the pig and not from the belly. This means it looks and tastes very different in other locales.
A bacon roll is probably the second most common type of morning roll in Scotland, after the roll and Lorne sausage. The bacon is either fried or grilled, and two rashers per roll is about average.
Roll and Fried Egg
The concept of how to fry an egg must be one of the most hotly debated in cooking. Fat or oil; tilt pan this way or that; splash fat up over egg or not; sunny side up?—all and more are made to complicate what should be a fairly straightforward procedure. A roll and fried egg is a fairly common breakfast choice in Scotland, but the state of the egg when served will vary hugely. Why not give the method below a try?
- Ensure egg is allowed to reach room temperature and not straight from refrigerator (at least two hours—overnight is fine).
- Break egg carefully into small bowl or cup and never straight into pan.
- Add a little oil to non-stick frying pan and spread around with a piece of kitchen towel. Minimal oil only is required. Bring pan up to a medium to high heat.
- Gently deposit egg in centre of pan. Immediately reduce heat to fairly low. Season with a little salt and white pepper.
- Most importantly, keep an eye on it but otherwise leave it alone for a few minutes
- When you can see that the egg white is cooked and not before, carefully turn the egg with a spatula and cook for a couple of minutes on the other side. An egg sunny side up on a bread roll is not a great idea, for the simple reason that having a colleague point out the yolk dribbled down your tie, shirt or top is not the best start to any day at the office.
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Soy Sauce on a Roll and Egg?
It is not conventional and by no means traditional, but it has to be tried to be believed. A splash or two of that well-known "Scottish" condiment, dark soy sauce, is delicious beyond description on a roll and fried egg.
Roll and Black Pudding
Black pudding (commonly blood pudding, where available in North America) is a hugely popular part of a full Scottish breakfast but is probably one of the less common fillings on a Scottish morning roll. It is served in cafes in this way, however, and by some at home.
Like Lorne sausages, black pudding will come in slices and is commonly fried. It is made from cereal grains, spices and what is usually pig's blood. It is truly delicious and popular throughout most of particularly the North of the UK.
Remove the Rind After Cooking But Before Eating
It is important to know that although it should be cooked with the rind on, the rind will almost certainly be plastic and must be removed prior to placing the black pudding on the roll. If the rind is removed prior to cooking, it is likely the black pudding slice will start to disintegrate in the pan or even under the grill.
Although the Scottish morning rolls and their suggested accompaniments will often be served and eaten precisely as shown on this page, there are two particular condiments which can not go without mention. Heinz Tomato Ketchup or HP Sauce have to be offered to anyone eating a Scottish breakfast roll of any type, as sometimes, they provide that finishing little touch to ensure perfection.
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Hopefully, something on this page will have appealed to your tastes, and you are prepared to improvise where necessary and try a traditional Scottish breakfast roll for yourself.
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