Egg sandwiches are a pretty big Jersey thing. I imagine you can get them anywhere (though I did once try to order a toasted bran muffin in San Francisco and the server looked at me like I had three heads, so who knows, maybe you can’t), but there’s a way they are typically made at delis here that I’ve never had elsewhere and that you can’t replicate at home. Not enough years-old grease on the fryer maybe, I don’t know. Anyway they’re a thing, and I lived on them as a kid, so even though I’m a grown-up and I could technically buy a roll and make eggs and bacon at home and put them on it, I never did. That would be a different food from the egg sandwiches I grew up on, and homemade could never scratch that itch.
And then a few years ago I went to Boston, and my friend X made me an egg sandwich and it completely blew my mind. It is totally unlike the greasy ones I grew up on, and I’m ashamed to admit that I’m increasingly disenchanted with those. What can I say, it’s been a revelation to realize I can eat a bacon and egg sandwich and not have moderate GI discomfort afterwards. And in my search for a good place to get a bacon and egg sandwich after moving out of my hometown, I’ve found that the places I like best approach the sandwiches of my youth but without the heavy greasiness I once viewed as a core component. Maybe I’m growing.
Anyway, here’s how you make the perfect egg sandwich at home, based on X’s preparation. My partner and I like slightly different variations on the same theme, so I’ve included both of our preferences.
For one person, you need:
2 slices sandwich bread
3 slices bacon, and friends, this is the kind of bacon you want: I’m sorry, because it is $8.99/pound where I live, but it renders all other bacon purposeless (get it? renders? I kill me). I will never buy another brand of bacon again. It is worth every cent.
1/4 medium onion, maybe more like 1/5
Sriracha (or ketchup, if you’re a fucking heathen)
2 slices of cheese, if that’s how you swing (it is not how I swing)
Timing is the hardest part of this sandwich – I still don’t have it down cold, despite having made this eleventy million times – so I’ve included my tips for getting everything as close to perfect as you can.
Start with the bacon. For one person you should have three slices of bacon. On my stove, with its fire-burning-out-of-control big burner but miles of space between the fire itself and the bottom of the pan, I find bacon cooks best on medium-high, but you know your own stove best. Go with God. (You can also make bacon in the oven, 20 minutes at 400 degrees, but it comes nicer on the stove.) You can start your onion at the same time – slice it thin, melt some butter in a small pan and get to frying.
All breakfast food gets fried in butter. Because reasons. Don’t talk to me.
When the bacon and onions are both approaching the level of done-ness you want, make your toast. If you’re adding cheese, here’s where you add it: lay one slice of cheese on each piece of toast and microwave for 25 seconds. By the time the toast is done and becheesed the bacon should also be done, and you can drain it on some paper towels. Only when the bacon is done and the toast is made do you begin the eggs. They are the most time-sensitive element of the sandwich, and my experience is that if you’re trying to drain the bacon and make the eggs and melt the cheese at the same time, the eggs will overcook.
So here’s how you fry eggs. Melt some butter in the pan – use a fair amount of butter, it helps with the flipping – and get it nice and hot. On my stove, it’s hot enough when there starts to be bubbles in the butter. Then crack your eggs right into the pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and leave them be for a minute. Once the white looks sturdy enough to be moved – think of yourself as an intensive care doctor, and the eggs are your ICU patient that needs to be transferred to a different facility (in your stomach) – flip those fuckers. Try not to break the yolk – the sandwich is nicest when you get runny yolk mixing with everything – but it’s okay if you do. Flipping eggs is hard.
While the eggs are cooking, you are breaking your bacon strips in half and putting three half-strips on one piece of toast. This is the first step of constructing the sandwich. Then you’re flipping your first egg out the pan and right on top of the bacon. At this point you can add your fried onions. On top of your fried onions, squirt a generous portion of ketchup if you’re wrong or sriracha if you’re right. Then your last fried egg. Then three more half strips of bacon. Then the other piece of toast. In word-picture form, your sandwich will look like:
three half-strips bacon
sriracha or ketchup
three half-strips bacon
Then turn off the stove and shovel that fucker in your face.