Bacon sandwiches are a beloved staple in the United Kingdom and Ireland, known by various names such as bacon butty, bacon bap, and bacon sarnie.
This simple yet satisfying sandwich consists of cooked bacon nestled between two slices of bread, often spread with butter and seasoned with ketchup or brown sauce.
It’s a go-to meal for any time of day and is even rumored to cure hangovers.
But what exactly makes a bacon sarnie so special?
Let’s dive into the details and explore the history and variations of this classic British sandwich.
What Is A Bacon Sarnie In England?
A bacon sarnie, also known as a bacon sandwich, is a quintessential British dish that has been enjoyed for generations. It is a simple yet delicious sandwich that consists of crispy bacon placed between two slices of bread.
The bread used for a bacon sarnie can vary, but it is typically white bread that is soft and fluffy. Some establishments may use a roll similar to those used for hamburgers, while others may toast the bread on only one side.
The bacon used in a bacon sarnie is usually back bacon, which is cut from the loin of the pig. It is cooked until crispy and then placed between the slices of bread.
To add some extra flavor, many people choose to spread butter on the bread before adding the bacon. Additionally, some people like to add ketchup or brown sauce to their sandwich for an extra kick of flavor.
The History Of The Bacon Sarnie
The history of the bacon sarnie dates back to the early 19th century, when bread and meat were staple foods for the working class in England. However, it wasn’t until the mid-20th century that the bacon sarnie became a popular dish throughout the country.
During World War II, bacon was one of the few meats that was not rationed, which made it a popular choice for sandwiches. It was also a common ingredient in breakfasts served in cafes and diners throughout the country.
In the post-war era, the bacon sarnie became a symbol of British culture and identity. It was a simple yet satisfying meal that could be enjoyed at any time of day. It was also a popular hangover cure, with many people claiming that a bacon sarnie was the perfect remedy for a night of heavy drinking.
Today, the bacon sarnie remains a beloved dish in England and is served in cafes, diners, and restaurants throughout the country. It is a testament to the enduring popularity of this simple yet delicious sandwich that has been enjoyed by generations of Britons.
The Perfect Ingredients For A Bacon Sarnie
When it comes to making the perfect bacon sarnie, the ingredients are key. The type of bacon used is crucial, and there are a few different options to choose from.
Firstly, it’s important to note that back bacon is the preferred choice for a bacon sarnie. This is because it provides a good balance of meat and fat, and has a delicious crispy tail that adds texture to the sandwich.
When selecting your back bacon, opt for smoked over unsmoked. Smoked bacon adds an extra layer of flavor that really elevates the sandwich.
In terms of quantity, three rashers of smoked back bacon is a good amount for one sandwich. However, some people may prefer to add an additional two full rashers of bacon (loin and belly) with the rind removed for extra meatiness.
Lastly, don’t forget about the bread. Soft and fluffy white bread is the traditional choice for a bacon sarnie, but feel free to experiment with different types of bread or even rolls. And don’t be shy about adding a bit of butter or sauce for extra flavor.
Regional Variations Of The Bacon Sarnie
While the basic components of a bacon sarnie remain the same throughout England, there are some regional variations that make each sandwich unique.
In the north of England, it is common to add a fried egg to the bacon sarnie, creating what is known as a “bacon and egg butty.” This variation is popular in places like Manchester and Liverpool.
In London and the southeast, it is common to add HP Sauce to the sandwich instead of ketchup or brown sauce. This gives the sandwich a tangy, slightly spicy flavor that complements the salty bacon perfectly.
In the southwest, it is common to use a bread roll instead of sliced bread for the sandwich. The roll is often toasted and buttered before adding the bacon, creating a crispy texture that contrasts with the soft bread.
In Scotland, it is common to add black pudding to the bacon sarnie. Black pudding is a type of blood sausage that is sliced and fried before being added to the sandwich. This gives the sandwich an extra meaty flavor and a slightly chewy texture.
The Art Of Making The Perfect Bacon Sarnie
Making the perfect bacon sarnie is an art that requires attention to detail and quality ingredients. The first step is to choose the right type of bread. While some may prefer a fancy sourdough or baguette, the traditional choice for a bacon sarnie is soft and fluffy white bread.
The bread can be toasted on one side or both sides, but it’s important not to overdo it as it can become too crispy and difficult to eat. One trick is to fry the bread briefly in the bacon fat before assembling the sandwich, or to char it on a griddle for added flavor and texture.
When it comes to choosing the bacon, back bacon is the preferred choice for a traditional bacon sarnie. It should be cooked until crispy, but not burnt, as this can ruin the flavor of the sandwich.
To add some extra richness and flavor, butter can be spread on the bread before adding the bacon. Some people also like to add ketchup or brown sauce for an extra kick of flavor, but this is a matter of personal preference.
Ultimately, the key to making the perfect bacon sarnie is to use quality ingredients and pay attention to detail during the cooking process. With a little practice and experimentation, anyone can master this classic British dish and enjoy it as a delicious breakfast or lunch option.
Health Concerns And Alternatives For The Bacon Sarnie
While a bacon sarnie may be a beloved breakfast staple in England, it’s important to consider the potential health concerns associated with consuming processed meats like bacon. Studies have shown that a higher consumption of processed meat is linked to an increased risk of cancer. Processed meats like bacon are also high in saturated fat, which can contribute to heart disease and other health issues.
For those looking for healthier alternatives to the classic bacon sarnie, there are plenty of options to consider. One alternative is nitrate-free bacon, which is cured with celery juice or powder instead of artificial nitrates. However, it’s important to note that celery juice or powder is also high in natural nitrates and carries the same risks as regular bacon when it comes to nitrosamines and cancer.
Another alternative is to swap out bacon for plant-based proteins like avocado or eggs. Avocado has a rich and delicious flavor that can easily replace bacon in a sandwich, while eggs provide protein without the high levels of saturated fat found in bacon.
For those who still crave the taste of bacon, carrot bacon is a great and much less processed option. All you need is some natural seasonings like tahini, soy sauce, garlic powder, liquid smoke, black pepper and paprika. Marinate thin strips of sliced carrot with the seasonings and olive oil overnight and oven bake those carrots into fake-bacon perfection.
Ultimately, while a bacon sarnie may be a tasty breakfast option, it’s important to consider the potential health risks associated with consuming processed meats like bacon. By exploring healthier alternatives like nitrate-free bacon or plant-based proteins, you can still enjoy a delicious breakfast sandwich without compromising your health.
The Bacon Sarnie In Popular Culture And Media.
The bacon sarnie has become more than just a dish in England, it has become a cultural icon. It is often associated with the working class and is considered a staple of British cuisine. In recent years, there has been a “bacon boom” where the country fell head over heels for those sizzling strips. This love for bacon has even made its way into popular culture and media.
One example of this is the infamous photo of Labour leader Ed Miliband attempting to eat a bacon sandwich in a London café. The photo went viral on social media, with many people mocking his awkward expression. The incident was even referenced in various memes and Photoshopped onto famous scenes from history and culture.
However, not all instances of the bacon sarnie in popular culture have been negative. In the lead-up to the 1997 election, Noel Gallagher of Oasis delivered a glowing recommendation of Tony Blair at the Brit Awards. Gallagher would later be invited to 10 Downing Street upon Blair’s election, with a picture of the two appearing prominently on the front pages of tabloid media.
More recently, politicians have attempted to connect with younger voters by appearing at music concerts and festivals. Jeremy Corbyn appeared halfway through a Libertines gig at a stadium in Birkenhead and made a speech to what turned out to be a passionately approving crowd. This was seen as a risk, but it paid off as Corbyn surpassed all expectations in the recent election.