And while we’re on the subject of sandwiches, I’d like to put forward my version of the greatest of all sandwiches, the egg and bacon sarnie. No other sandwich satisfies so many of our baser gastronomic instincts. No other sandwich is such a monument of sophistication and such a paradigm of simplicity.
It’s general ingredients and principles are universal – bread (sliced white); egg; bacon; sauce of some kind. However, it’s unremitting attention to the details that lifts the mundane to the extraordinary. So:
The bread should be of the cheapest kind. It has the ideal weight, not too thick, not too thin, of impeccable lack of character.
The egg should be of the best kind, with a brilliant yellow yolk, but it shouldn’t be too fresh as you want the white to spread a bit to cover the base of the sandwich like a cape.
The bacon should be dry cured and streaky with a good layering of fat, a) to achieve its own requisite crispness; and b) to provide the fat in which to fry the egg and the bread slices. Yes, the bread slices. The ineffable crunch of properly fried bread is the key to the sequence of textural contrasts – crunchy carapace; oozy egg; brittle pig – that contribute to the symphonic magnificence of the whole. Using the fat as the frying medium also creates a pleasing intellectual and flavour connection between the inside and the outside of the sandwich.
The sauce should be HP sauce, certainly brown sauce of some kind. NEVER tomato. The wrong flavour altogether. In my view only HP sauce has the requisite coarse, rasping, sour-sweet quality needed to counterbalance the towering inferno of fat, porky perkiness and the rich creaminess of the egg yolk.
For 1 person
2 slices of cheapest white bread
4 rashers dry cured streaky bacon with plenty of fat
Salt flakes & black pepper
Fry the rashers of bacon, gently at first, to draw off the fat, and n a higher heat later to crisp the up. Remove from the pan, cut to lengths to make sure they fit on the bread slices. Keep warm.
Fry the egg until there’s a crisp lace trimming the edge of the white. Take out. Keep warm
Fry the slices of bread (don’t trim off the crusts; antithetical to the ethos of the sandwich) until golden brown on both sides. Take out. Don’t drain.
(It’s tempting to fry the egg last, but in my experience, the bread tends to soak up the bacon fat, leaving not enough in which to fry the egg. If you prefer the frying-the-egg-last approach,you may need to add some more fat of some kind – duck fat can make a cheery change).
Assembly: place a slice of fried bread on a plate. Dash a dollop or two of HP sauce on its pristine surface. Lay the bacon rashers horizontally on top. Slip the egg over the bacon. Sprinkle some flakes of sea salt judiciously and grind plenty of black pepper. Add a further dash or two of HP Sauce. Place the other slice of fried bread on top. Press down gently until the yolk breaks begins to ease gently over the other contents of the sandwich.
How you eat it is your choice. For myself, I like to pick it up in my fingers and bite into it as quickly as possible. Of coarse dollops of egg, sauce and fat cascade down my front, but what the hell. It’s a small price to pay for such joy, pleasure and happiness.