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The Great Fried Egg Sandwich
The Great Fried Egg Sandwich
A lot of people find moments of clarity while watching sunsets or taking a long bath. Those things do it for me sometimes too, but there is one thing that always makes everything feel right in my world. It’s watching the yolk from a fried egg sandwich fill my plate on a lazy Sunday morning. Ask any fifth grader and they’ll tell you that a sandwich cut in half just has more love in it than one that isn’t, and the confidence that comes from perfectly cooking an egg is enough to ready you for the week ahead.
Timing is everything when you make a fried egg sandwich. You want all the pieces to be hot and toasty when you put it together. It’s a juggling act that takes some practice.
First, you want to fry your bacon (two or three pieces for each person) in a large skillet over medium heat. It’s imperative that you use good bacon—thick hormone-free slices that don’t smell of fake maple flavoring. I like Trader Joe’s uncured apple smoked bacon.
While the bacon is going, you want to slice up your accoutrements. I personally like tomato, fresh spinach or a romain, and sometimes a little red onion. You want to pull the mayo jar out of the fridge, so that it’s ready to go, place a couple of paper towels on a plate for the bacon, and put your bread in the toaster, but don’t start it just yet.
I like a wheat bread, but one that isn’t to loaded with whole grains. That kind is too dense, but a slice of white bread just doesn’t lay the kind of foundation we’re looking for, so you want something in between. If you hate wheat, I’d try a sourdough or Texas toast maybe.
When the bacon looks about two-thirds done, you want to lower the heat a bit, flip the bacon and push it over to one side of the skillet. Then, you crack two extra-large free-range eggs in the part of the pan with the most bacon grease.
I start my toast now, but you’ll need to tweak the timing of toasting based on your toaster’s personality. This is important, because no one likes cold toast.
Then, sprinkle the eggs with pepper and try to flick some bacon grease over the yolk. This will give the yolk a protective covering and make it more likely that you’ll be in control of when it breaks. There are few things worse than a prematurely broken yolk.
One of those things is an over-cooked yolk. The way I make sure I don’t over cook mine is to pull it out of the pan just as the white is opaque. If your yolk breaks or if it’s hard, rather than runny, you have to start another egg. Broken or hard yolks just won’t do for fried egg sandwiches.
Once the toast is ready, add the egg, mayo, and bacon crisped to your liking, and top with lettuce and tomato. When all is right, pour a glass of cold orange juice, take a deep breath, and slice into that bad boy.
If you’d like a Southwestern style sandwich, add fresh salsa (to use something like pace would be a crime), avocado, and sour cream instead of mayo.
If you've got a few summertime minutes to spare, try a fried green tomato version. Before I start the regular routine above, I make enough of a half cornmeal and half wheat flour mixture to coat the tomato slices I’m frying. Then I add garlic powder, salt, pepper, chili powder, and a little bit of sugar to the cormeal/flour mixture to taste. I dredge the tomatoes in an egg and milk bath and coat with flour mixture before setting it aside.
Everything else is pretty much the same, except I pan fry the tomatoes in the bacon grease along with the eggs. If you have a really big skillet, you can put the tomatoes in a couple minutes before the eggs and cook all three together. If not, remove the bacon when it’s crisp and keep it in a warm in the oven until sandwich building time. Then you can cook the tomatoes and add the eggs just before it’s time to turn the tomatoes over. This version's also great with avocado, and be sure to stack the egg on top of the fried green tomato if you want the pleasure of breaking the yolk yourself.