How to Make an Egg Sandwich

 

withdadandjulian

 

First of all, you need a gas range. If you don’t have a gas range, please go out and get one. Making an egg sandwich requires the immediacy of “heat there – heat gone” that only the flame can provide. If you have an electric stove, and you insist on using it, well, okay, you can make an egg sandwich on that, but it will not be as good.

I learned to make this sandwich as a child watching my father do it, and in my heart I carried with me that method, both observed and instructed, like a kind of religious ritual. Thirty-five years later my father offered to make me the sandwich, and I was pleased and excited. Once again, I was going to have an egg sandwich made at the hands of the master! Imagine my shock and surprise, my downright dismay, when he didn’t make it right. He mixed up the eggs in the pan on the heat, it was stunning. He even added pickle relish to his own sandwich.

To properly make an egg sandwich you need five items: eggs, salt, white bread, mayonnaise and butter. (No you cannot use margarine, spreads, olive oil or anything else. It has to be butter.) For years I made this sandwich with Miracle Whip, but it contains High Fructose Corn Syrup, so I’ve gone to using mayo, it’s better for you.

No doubt you’ve seen those insidious ads that suggest High Fructose Corn Syrup is “all natural” and “nutritionally the same as table sugar.” They’re like those cigarette ads from the fifties that proclaimed smoking was “Healthy!” “Good for you!” Recommended by Doctors!” High Fructose Corn Syrup is a sweetener in which the caloric content has been used up through processing, it provides no cellular fuel at all. It may be all natural, but it leaves all natural fatty deposits in your liver. No thanks. But I digress. We like Hellman’s for mayonnaise, as it is a bit tangier and more like Miracle Whip in taste.

Clearly, this is not an egg salad sandwich, and technically, it is not a fried egg sandwich. A fried egg sandwich would be something akin to the burger my stepfather used to order at the lunch counter of the Linkletter Hotel . . . three patties of beef, three slices of cheese stacked in a bun, with a sunny-side up egg on top. He ate this sandwich continental style with a knife and fork.

This might be described as a scrambled egg sandwich, but you cook the eggs more like frittata, you don’t scramble them in the pan, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

If you want to use cheap eggs, that’s your prerogative of course, but the extra expense of organic eggs from grain fed, free range hens pays off in taste. (Not to mention the kharmic boost that you get from not further contributing to the misery of hens being kept on an assembly line and fed diets that include (eek!) bits of other chickens. Cannibal chickens! The stuff of Wes Craven’s nightmares.

So take two or three beautiful eggs (your preference) and crack them into a bowl, glass measuring cup or clean coffee mug. Whisk them briskly with a pair of forks. Heat a small non-stick frying pan, and add a dollop of butter. Turn the heat on high. When the butter is melted and frothy, pour in the eggs. Be careful not to let the butter brown . . . if it does, you have to start all over with new butter.

While the eggs bubble happily in the pan, get out two slices of good white bread. (A note about Wonder Bread. I am not a Wonder Bread snob. I can roll up my slice of Wonder Bread into those neat little doughy balls with the best of them . . . but Wonder Bread won’t work well for this sandwich, it’s too spongy and the whole thing will just be a soggy mess. It needs to be white bread with a little bit of body.) Or you can use nutty multi-grain bread, or the like. Sourdough or rye are likely to crowd the delicate taste of the eggs, so they are not advised.

My husband, who is a wonderful man in nearly every respect, insists on freezing the loaves of bread that cross our threshold. If I’m making this sandwich with bread that’s been frozen, I toast the bread. (Thawed bread is not the same as soft bread, darling, no matter what you say.) In the best of possible worlds, use bread that you just brought home from the grocery store, bread that has never seen refrigeration of any kind.

Take your slices of bread, and spread upon them a reasonable amount of mayo. Don’t glop it on, just a little goes a long way. Some heathen pagan insensitive types have been known to put mustard (mustard!) on this sandwich. I say to them, why don’t you just have a mustard sandwich? Even a tiny bit of good Dijon mustard will make it taste like mustard. I shudder at the thought.

Have you been keeping an eye on the eggs? You need to be keeping an eye on the eggs. They should be getting tall and puffy in the undisturbed pan. Now, depending on the intended recipient of the egg sandwich, you flip it either sooner or later. My son, who is generally a good boy, likes his eggs browned slightly. What’s a mother to do? I can’t stand them this way, but that’s his preference and so I bite my tongue and make his sandwich with the eggs browned.

Sprinkle salt on the eggs like you were dancing to Afro-Cuban music while cooking. (In fact, it’s not a bad idea to listen to Afro-Cuban music while cooking.) Flip them over with a spatula. Cook for another minute or so, then slide the eggs (a golden fluffy patty of eggs) onto the waiting bread.

Place on a small plate and carry with you to your favorite armchair to consume while reading a paperback novel. Put the egg sandwich on a tray with a steaming cup of coffee and a tall glass of orange juice and carry upstairs to your husband who is feeling not quite himself. Wrap in a paper towel and carry for your son who has his arms full with his school bag and cello so he can eat his warm breakfast in the car on a dark and cold winter morning on the way to school.

Make this sandwich when you aren’t in the mood to make dinner. This sandwich is excellent for lunch while working on household projects. It’s great nourishment for your mother recovering from heart surgery. It is, in fact, perfect for mending broken hearts, not to mention a bonafide cure for hangovers and other ailments. An egg sandwich is just the thing to fix for your father when he is dying of cancer, even if it turns out after all these years that he doesn’t make it the same way. He will enjoy it anyway, maybe all the more so because it was something of his that you took and made your own.

 

This a reprise. I wrote this piece in March 2009, and I am sharing it here in loving memory of my Dad, Larry Paul Vonalt, January 10, 1937-December 26, 2005. Thinking about you on Father’s Day, Dad, and all days. (And I would like to add that since this was written Miracle Whip has stopped using high fructose corn syrup in their salad dressing.) 

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Dinner to Mend the Broken-Hearted

 

Or the woebegone. Or someone getting over a cold, or malaise, or heart surgery.* Or anyone who’s had a really crummy day. And this also works for people who want to start off an autumn weekend with a breakfast that will carry them through the day, or Christmas morning or final exams. It is a go-to kind of dish, perfect for guests, easy to throw together for dinner when you want some kind of comfort food and you don’t want to spend all night making it.

Is it diet food? Of course not. If you want to take this recipe and bastardize it with egg-beaters and skim milk and fat-free cheese and tofurkey, well, I guess I can’t stop you. But I won’t be held responsible for the mess you pull out of the oven. As written, it’s a little high in fat, but the body needs fat, and protein in order to keep on going– it’s the fuel for your life.

 

This is what you need:

Quiche dish and refrigerated roll-out pie crust (or make your own) or Large frozen pie crust.

8 eggs

1 cup heavy whipping cream

4 oz shredded cheese

8 oz crumbled bacon

8 oz green peas (frozen or fresh, not canned)

 

Here’s how it works:

Turn the oven on to 350.

(If you want bacon in your Quiche, fry up half a pound of bacon until it is quite crisp. Limp bacon in Quiche is kind of gross, so make sure it is cooked enough. If you don’t want bacon, you can skip this step.)

Take down the Quiche dish. (A pie plate is not big enough, unless it’s a humongous pie plate.)

I use Pillsbury pie crust. If you use a frozen crust (and you can) you don’t have to worry about a Quiche dish. Choose the largest size they have. Or if you’re really virtuous, you can make a pie crust, I won’t stop you. If you use the Pillsbury crust, unfold it and drape it into the Quiche dish. I sort of like the rustic look– if you want to do that thing with the fork tines on the edge, that’s totally up to you.

Into the raw crust goes (in this instance) 8 ounces frozen peas (fresh are fine too, no canned), 4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon. You can vary this however you like. Broccoli? Sure. Ham? Why not. Gruyère? A classic. But bacon and cheddar and peas is a favorite at our house– and the version without the bacon is well-loved too.  This is the place where you make this Quiche your own. Add more cheese or less. Use salmon, or steak or sausage, mushrooms, onions (best caramelized), zucchini, mozzarella. Whatever you like.

This is the part you don’t screw around with, because this is what makes it magical. Take 8 large eggs and whip in a bowl with a cup of heavy whipping cream. (Okay, yes you can use half and half. In a pinch, even whole milk, but in that case, reduce the milk by half and add two more eggs.) Just whip it ’till they are well-combined. You don’t have to get out the Kitchen-aid and throttle them.

Pour the egg-cream mixture over the stuff you’ve layered in the pie crust, add some salt and pepper and stick it in the oven for 45 minutes. What you pull out when the timer goes off will make you feel like life is worth living.

*I was very surprised when my mother had open-heart surgery that they placed no restrictions on her diet, no admonitions about fat or salt or cholesterol. They just wanted the patients to eat something to begin to regain their strength. My mother was a tough nut in this instance, refusing all  hospital food for two days. Finally I got her to indulge in a root beer float. Then yogurt. Then soup. Then this Quiche, the dinner to mend the broken-hearted.

Target today 54. Steps today 1066. For breakfast: two peaches, yogurt with granola. Lunch: ham sandwich, plain. 4 little shortbread cookies. Banana. Dinner: cheeseburger, six mini-sweet peppers, half cup of cherry tomatoes, kit=kat bar. (Yes, I can do better.)