McNotions Breakfast Muffin: the breakfast you never thought you needed

What’s for Breakfast?: Meet the McNotions Muffin - a breakfast sandwich of halloumi, avocado and poached egg on a buttered bun

Use a thick slab of halloumi, preferably seared in a cast-iron pan

Use a thick slab of halloumi, preferably seared in a cast-iron pan

 

Danny O’Brien is a comedian, writer and food obsessive.

I was flying from London Stansted (remember those days?) to Dublin last year coming back from a solo show the night before in Covent Garden. I was mildly hungover and the “hanger” was real, so I grabbed breakfast en route to the gate from one of those trendy and allegedly healthier, overpriced places.

November is Food Month in The Irish Times. irishtimes.com/foodmonth
November is Food Month in The Irish Times. irishtimes.com/foodmonth

Had I been absolutely dying I would’ve gone for something far greasier, know this. But they were serving a breakfast-type muffin with scrambled egg, halloumi and some mushy avocado – at the cost of a pre-pandemic Temple Bar pint. The avocado was pretty tasteless, as were the eggs, but the halloumi and slightly spicy ketchup in a breakfast muffin was a winner.

Inspired and back in the motherland, I decided to make my own version and stepped up the ingredients that I felt were lacking.

I went with some well-seasoned smashed ripe avocado with a squeeze of fresh lime. I also swapped out the tragic microwaved scrambled egg for a soft poached fresh, organic, Irish one, and replaced the spicy ketchup with some fiery relish I had in the fridge. Just like that, the McNotions Breakfast Muffin was born.

What you’ll need

Serves one
1 English muffin
1 thick slab of halloumi
½ ripe avocado
½ fresh lime
1 tsp red pepper relish (or savoury chutney/chilli jam)
1 organic or corn-fed free-range egg
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
Irish butter (the real stuff)

How to cook it

1 Get the heat going under a cast-iron pan. If you don’t own one you should think about investing, they will last forever and change your cooking life for the better.

2 With a good sharp knife, slice a nice thick wedge of halloumi off the block, about a quarter of it will be good. Don’t scrimp, cheese is life and we only get one go around the clock.

3 A little oil will stop the cheese sticking and start it searing on the pan. You can use a griddle or frying pan for this too, but the cast iron gives it that incredible crust.

4 Mash the avocado in a bowl with the juice of the lime to keep it fresh and bright. Season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil to taste and set aside.

5 Get a pan or pot on with just-below-boiling water for your poached egg. Pro tip: a little splash of vinegar helps the white of the egg coagulate and keep a good shape and stops the whites flailing all around the pan like ghosts. Give your egg the love it deserves.

6 Flip the halloumi once seared and then liberally butter your split muffin. I can’t stress how important this is, whether it’s a muffin or a burger bun– always butter them hard before you toast them on a pan or a grill, it creates a seal which stops the bread getting soggy from the ingredients on top of it – and it’s incredibly delicious. If you take nothing else from this recipe then at least remember to always butter your buns.

7 Crack a fresh egg into the simmering water and get the muffins toasting, butter side down, in the cast iron pan alongside the halloumi.

8 Put a generous dollop of the smashed avocado on your buttered, toasted muffin base, followed by the seared and now slightly melty halloumi slab. Drain and place your soft and seasoned poached egg on top, followed by the other toasted bun, with a good dollop of a relish (or savoury chutney/chilli jam) of your choosing. A gentle squeeze will let the yolk-porn commence; slow push it into your face with a nice cup of tea and have a great day.

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