The Great Ulster Fry

Dufferin Coaching Inn’s owner and operator Leontine Haines has become well-known over the past decade for her outstanding cooked breakfasts, served up fresh each morning to guests of the award-winning County Down guesthouse.

We asked Leontine why her fry-ups have become so popular.  Here’s what she had to say:

It was in the Victorian era that the cooked breakfasts appeared in household management books, but with the influx of tourism to the British Isles in the 1960s, the fry really took off, with variations on the hearty breakfast appearing in English, Scottish, Irish and Ulster fry versions.  While the breakfast is popular in other parts of the UK and Ireland, in Northern Ireland the Ulster Fry has an almost cult following, and there’s a lot of debate over which way is the ‘right’ way to prepare it.

Along with rasher of bacon, sausages, fried egg, tomatoes and mushroom, the Ulster Fry has the glorious additions of extra carbs – a soda farl and potato cake, or ‘potato bread.’ These 2 breads are what make the Ulster Fry so delicious and distinguished – and especially well-equipped for a ‘morning after’ breakfast!


Soda bread – although not originating from Ireland – has become a staple in Irish homes, be it the White Soda bread or brown soda bread, sometimes with a tot of Guinness added.  It is made from flour, salt, buttermilk and bicarbonate of soda.  It should be fried until crisp brown. Farl means ‘fourths,’ and at Dufferin Coaching Inn we serve thick fingers of soda farl crisp and fresh.

Potato bread is made from cooked potatoes, flour, baking powder and buttermilk, and at Dufferin we serve it in small rounds that have been dusted in flour. This makes them crisp on the outside but fluffy on the inside.

For an outstanding fry, the sausages have to be local.  We source ours on the day from our local butcher.  We go for pork sausages and opt for ones that are made by hand.  We serve our sausages straight from the pan onto a warm plate, place beside freshly cooked non-smoked bacon, also from our local butcher.

Large, fresh local eggs should be fried with a sunshine yellow yolk, while grilled tomatoes and freshly sautéed local mushrooms add colour and different flavours as well as some freshness to an otherwise stodgy meal!  While some people may opt for baked beans to accompany their fry-up, traditionalists insist that this is not part of the Ulster fry, as all components of the meal should be fryable!

Now that your Ulster fry is ready, plating is the last task that stands between you and the breakfast of champions.  Place the finger of soda farl at the top of the plate, and pile the potato cake rounds on top. Arrange your freshly-fried egg in the centre of your plate, with sausages and bacon on either side. Mushrooms and tomatoes adorn the plate on either side of the breads.  Now get ready to tuck into the most memorable meal of the day!

To experience first-hand Leontine’s legendary fries, book your stay now at Dufferin Coaching Inn!