the breakfast sandwich: a forgotten art form.

sandwiches are a lot like mustaches.

a real mustache is a magnificent, borderline magical thing.  but so frequently those who sport mustaches don’t do them right.  they wear 1970s porn-stashes and soul patches and charlie chaplin mustaches.  they squander the potential of such a majestic form of facial hair.  some people are just too lazy to shave, the and result is what appears to be a growth on their upper lip.

like mustaches, negligence has led to sandwiches developing a bad reputation.  in most people’s minds, sandwiches are what you make when you can’t think of anything else, or when the amount of effort you can put into a meal is so lacking that all you can muster the strength to do is put things on two pieces of bread.

so i challenge you.  think about a sandwich you want to make.  don’t use american cheese.  don’t make a blt or club sandwich or egg salad.  don’t just pile random meats on.  actually take a few minutes and think about what ingredients would go well with others.  a well engineered sandwich can leave a really good feeling in its wake (and a super full stomach).

here’s one of mine.

the poor man muffin

it all starts with the bread.  the bread informs the rest of the flavor of your sandwich.  aside from squishy white bread, i would be willing to venture that there is no real wrong choice.  italian, french, black, and wheat breads are normally my go-to sandwich containers.

but now and again, the english muffin pops into my mind.  it is a bread created with a niche.  the english muffin was designed to be fork split and toasted.  and when toasted, the ridges of its rough internal surface was designed to retain butter.  it is a bread made for tea, and as such, it is a bread meant for breakfast.

but this sandwich ain’t got no butter.  instead, it carries a variety of tasty, good old fashioned american breakfast staples.  a cup of coffee and one or two of these bad boys in the morning will get you ready to take on the world, guaranteed.

you’ll need:

  • english muffins
  • ham
  • eggs
  • spinach
  • onion
  • smoked cheese
  • mayo (maybe)
  • black pepper
  • salt
  1. put some oil in a frying pan and get it nice and hot.  cut your ham into wide strips, and add them to the pan.  do your best to keep the ham in a single layer.  if the pieces get too close or end up on top of each other, they’ll create a big sticky mess or worse yet cook unevenly.  nothing worse than pieces of burnt ham mixed in with pieces of soggy ham soaked with oil.  as the ham finishes, place it on a plate covered with three sheets of paper towel.  because the paper towels absorb the grease, your ham will end up a little crispier.
  2. baby spinach is great for sandwiches, because it has no stems and most of the time comes pre-washed.  if you do not have baby spinach, wash your spinach, and separate the leaves from the stems.  use gently running cold water, otherwise your spinach will wilt.  because the texture and presentation is better, it is generally best to keep the leaves whole.  do your best to remove as much water as you can (which a colander can help a lot with).
  3. slice half of a small onion as thin as you possibly can.  remember, transparent when raw.
  4. grate your smoked cheese.  it is up to you how finely you grate it, but i tend to prefer a grater that produces very fine, long pieces of cheese.  in my experiences, the finer the grate the better the cheese melts.
  5. go back to your frying pan, and if there are any black bits hanging out in the bottom of your oil, give it a good hard scrub and wash.  if not, feel free to use the remaining oil for your eggs.  cooking eggs for an english muffin can be tricky, because a regular over medium eggs is too large to fit on the bread.  if you don’t care about presentation, go hog wild.  i promise i won’t stop you.  if you do, however, in a few cooking stores they carry small metal rings that are made to sit in the bottom of a frying pan.  these rings are designed for the precise purpose of making a perfectly round sunny side up egg.  i know you know how to cook an egg, so i won’t go into that here.
  6. toast your english muffins.  if you are lucky, like me, you can find a variety of english muffins to use.  i tend to prefer rye english muffins, mainly because the flavor and texture are a little more hearty.  the high density of english muffins also make them a bread that is okay to toast a little longer.  once the rough interior is slightly browned, add mayo (maybe, don’t worry, i’ll explain later), spinach, onion, egg, cheese, ham and spinach in that order.  fasten with a toothpick if you need to.
  7. make a pot of coffee and kick butt for a whole day.  a sandwich that is well-balanced and chock full of flavor (and nutrition) goes a long way in the course of a twelve to fifteen hour day.  trust me, i know.

goes excellent with:

sauce.  did you notice that i kept following the word mayo with a parenthetical (maybe)?  that because sandwiches are the ideal vector for sauce.  mayo is if you have absolutely nothing on hand.  but try your luck, and the beauty of these sandwiches is that they aren’t particularly hard to make in quantity.  make four and put a different sauce on each.  eat two for breakfast and wrap the other two in foil, put them in a brown paper bag, and take a meal with you as snack for whatever you have on the docket today.  my favorites for this particular combo of ingredients are the red bell pepper cream sauce and the tomato marsala sauce.

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