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This, ladies and gentlemen, is the face that launched a thousand ships: the signature Egg Shop version of a standard bacon, egg, and cheese.
The star of this sandwich is a sunny-up egg with the yolk broken into the roll before serving, but the tomato jam is gearing up to steal the show at any moment. Sharp melted New England cheddar counters the sweet and savory jam and cuts the salt of the perfectly crisped bacon.
The inspiration for this sandwich dates back to 2003, when I was a student at NYU doing "the Williamsburg hustle." Back then, Williamsburg meant affordable one-bedroom apartments and still-dilapidated environs that served as the perfect backdrop for late-night dance parties and student films. It was before the Starbucks, the American Apparels, and Dunkin Donuts of the world marked their territory in the neighborhood.
While I’m still too young to utter a convincing “back in the day” sentiment, I would be remiss if I didn’t attribute my love of the B.E.C. to 2003 and a tiny Mexican cake bakery on Bedford Avenue (R.I.P.).
The premise of the sandwich was perfect: a sweet Mexican torta roll, with a healthy spread of very fresh, very chunky, nicely spicy salsa verde. But the bacon, egg, and cheese parts needed work. The unseasoned, too-hard egg was lackluster in texture and flavor. The bacon was greasy, stringy and overly smoky. The cheese was the nearly-red, pre-sliced stuff of my youth in Cincinnati.
Thankfully, in 2003, I didn’t give a flying fig. I didn’t even know what a fig was, and the comforting experience of eating this sandwich as the sun came up after a long night of blissful self-abuse was just as indelible as a teenage tattoo.
For the last fourteen years, I’ve been struggling with what it means to be a New Yorker; for the last nine, what it means to be a chef. What I've concluded is that New Yorkers, who love this city for all of its bad, and all of its good, feel a need to voice an opinion. And, across the board, chefs share an obsession with making food better than they have ever tasted before.
So when the opportunity to open a NYC restaurant devoted to eggs and egg sandwiches presented itself in 2013 (and became Egg Shop), I had no choice: I felt obligated to express my love for that Williamsburg egg sandwich I regularly devoured ten years earlier—but first, I had to make it better.
I started by sourcing local organic eggs, high-quality melting cheddar, and preservative-free handmade artisan rolls. I found balance in a Black Forest cured bacon that was not overly salty and lent a subtle sweetness. I gave an edible shout-out to that Mexican bakery with a savory tomato jam and fresh pickled jalapeños, and I gave the egg its due by not overcooking it. Finally, by allowing the yolk to break into the roll, I created a first bite that introduces the eater to pure egg flavor like one big sloppy kiss.
I’m a chef, I’m a New Yorker, and I’m in love with the Egg Shop B.E.C.
For the sandwich:
- 1 panini roll: https://food52.com/recipes/70277-egg-shop-panini-rolls
- 2 tablespoons tomato jam (see below)
- 4 fresh pickled jalapeños
- 2 ounces sharp white cheddar (we use Shelburne Farms, Grafton Village, or McCadam)
- 3 slices Black Forest or applewood-smoked bacon
- 1 egg
- 1 pinch sea salt, for garnish
- Torn flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
For the components:
- FOR THE TOMATO JAM (makes 4 cups):
- One 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes
- 5 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 4 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Kosher salt
- FOR THE JALAPENOS (makes 2 cups):
- 2 tablespoons pure cane sugar
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 6 jalapeño peppers, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
Recipes from Egg Shop: The Cookbook (William Morrow Cookbooks 2017).
Name your favorite egg sandwich in the comments below.