Breakfast meats in America and abroad

by Bryan Salvage
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Breakfast meats have long been a favorite of mine and millions of other Americans. Perhaps one reason is because I don’t eat them as often as I’d like. My consumption of breakfast meats happens only on special occasions. More often, I’ll crave breakfast at lunchtime and even dinner time, but that, too, is hard to pull off during the week.

That being said, I am surprised there aren’t more restaurants offering breakfast on the menu all day. Breakfast meats add a lot to what otherwise could be a ho-hum first meal of the day. Such products enjoyed in the United States include bacon; Canadian bacon; pork, beef and turkey sausage patties and links, plus ham. But then there are some more unusual meats also eaten during breakfast, such as pork chops, a popular New Orleans breakfast meat; chorizo for the growing base of Mexican Tex-Mex food fans; and many Texans enjoy chicken fried steak with eggs while Pennsylvania scrapple (pork or other meat scraps stewed with cornmeal and shaped into loaves for slicing and frying) is a local favorite in that state. And don’t’ forget about steak and eggs and even T-Bone steak is gobbled up by many athletes for breakfast. Meanwhile, some Italians in the US enjoy pancetta (Italian cured belly of pork) during breakfast and even bratwurst and eggs is not uncommon for those folks with a German heritage who reside in the upper Midwest. And some fast-food chains offer breakfast sandwiches, wraps or tortillas containing a variety of sausage and bacon. At retail, you can choose from a variety of breakfast entrées with meat, breakfast sandwiches and even breakfast pizza.

Once you look at breakfast meats outside the US, it gets even more interesting. Some folks in Great Britain enjoy kippers or kidneys for breakfast, which I avoided while on business in that country on several occasions. While attending ANUGA and IFFA exhibitions in Germany over the past several decades, I always looked forward to traditional German breakfasts at the small, local hotels I frequented. Breakfast meat offerings usually included liverwurst and other German meat spreads, Schlackwurst and other German salamis, a variety of other sausages and ham.

Once while rooming in Auckland, New Zealand, to attend an International Congress of Meat Science and Technology meeting in the 1990s, I decided to walk down the hill from my hotel in the heart of the city early each morning to a little food shop that served hand-held lamb pies that appeared to be made from scratch. The shop’s quiet but friendly owner/chef appeared to be genuinely tickled that a visiting Yank would order several of his small lamb pies for breakfast each morning. They were terrific and a welcome change from toast, cereal and eggs.

During my only night ever spent in a Malmo, Sweden, I had boiled eggs and cold ham and bread and jam for breakfast the following day before traveling on to the Netherlands and then Italy. While staying in Milan, I don’t recall breakfast meats being served at the nearby restaurant several blocks from the ancient hotel my business colleagues and I stayed at in the old, industrial part of the city, but the food and owners were very friendly and helpful in helping us choose items from their Italian-written menu.

Several years later while in Australia visiting a number of meat plants throughout the country, I feasted on Aussie meat pies for breakfast, which featured whole-muscle meat as opposed to ground meat, as well as lamb sausage.

Given the variety of breakfast meats and breakfast products containing meat around the world, I am surprised that some meat entrepreneurs in the US haven’t launched a line of breakfast meat pies tailored after New Zealand and Australian meat pies both at retail and foodservice. A good-tasting breakfast meat pie at the right price point that could be heated up in a microwave could become big sellers at retail and foodservice. And since the US meat industry offers a host of cold cuts and deli meats, why not develop a special line for breakfast consumption or at least market some existing products as potential components to spice up breakfast throughout America?

It will be interesting to see how US breakfast meat offerings evolve in the coming years. Can we ever expect to see breakfast hamburgers or breakfast hot dogs? Time will tell.

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