Forget about pastrami: The iconic New York City sandwich is bacon, egg, and cheese on a hard roll—cooked on a griddle and served by someone who addresses you as papi or mami.
The language of New York City in the mornings is Spanish—or more accurately, Spanglish—and even the non-Spanish speakers lined up at the bodega counter usually make an attempt. It’s the last bastion of non-Starbucks breakfast—and maybe the last place in New York where construction workers, doormen, hedge funders, black, white, Asian, and Latin gather in one room, united by a single purpose: the bodega sandwich.
(makes 2 sandwiches)
6 slices bacon
2 kaiser rolls, sliced as for a sandwich
4 large eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 slices American or Swiss cheese
Plate lined with newspaper
Heat a large, heavy-bottom skillet or cast-iron griddle pan over high heat until hot, then add the bacon and cook until golden brown and crisp, adjusting the temperature if necessary so that it doesn’t get burned. If it burns, start over. (You can also cook your bacon in the oven; see page 12.) Using a spatula or tongs, remove the bacon to the lined plate. Open the kaiser rolls and place them facedown on the griddle for 2 minutes to warm through and absorb some of that bacon grease. Remove them and park 3 slices of bacon inside each roll.
Crack the eggs into a medium mixing bowl, season with salt and pepper, and beat well. You’re not making scrambled eggs here, you’re making a kind of value-neutral omelet, so don’t worry about retaining big curds in the pan. Cook the eggs in the hot bacon grease until cooked through. Top with the cheese, distributed in an even layer, and let cook until slightly melty. Remove the eggs and divide them evenly among the rolls, folding and chopping as necessary. Close the sandwiches, wrap in foil for portability (if necessary), and serve with shitty coffee.
Originally published in Appetites: A Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain and Laurie Woolever