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A great breakfast sandwich is not an everyday affair: It takes a bit more time and effort than making toast and scrambled eggs, and is far less wholesome than a bowl of yogurt or oatmeal. But there are mornings when an eggy, meaty, melty sandwich is the best—perhaps only—thing to point your day in the right direction.

As a New York City-based company, bodega and deli breakfast sandwiches are a frequent topic of conversation, and “what’s your breakfast sandwich order?” is essentially a personality test. And while we don’t think there’s one best way to make a breakfast sandwich, we sure do have a favorite way. Below, our opinionated guide to the Field Breakfast Sandwich.

The Components

Bread

There’s really no wrong option when it comes to what will bracket your breakfast sandwich—it really comes down to your personal preference. Some folks opt for a chewy English muffin or bagel; others like a soft Kaiser roll or a not-too-crumbly buttermilk biscuit. In a pinch, lightly toasted sandwich bread is better than nothing. Whatever you choose, it should be sturdy enough to hold everything together, yet pliant enough so your sandwich doesn’t explode when you bite into it. We love a squishy potato hamburger bun. Whatever vessel you choose, make sure you toast it with some butter in a cast iron skillet first.

Photo: Lauren V. Allen

Eggs

Without eggs, it’s just a sandwich. While there are many ways to cook an egg, your preferred method should result in something that will hold its shape and not squirt you with runny yolks (save the poached eggs for Benedict). Scrambled eggs are easy, but make sure they’re not too soft, or you’ll be scrambling to reassemble your sandwich. If you crave a McMuffin-style egg, this primer. At home, we make a quick square omelette (see recipe, below), which can be filled with a sprinkling of cheese to help it hold its shape.

Photo: Lauren V. Allen

Meat

Sausage patties or crisp bacon slices are the Beatles; ham or Canadian bacon are the Eagles. Anything else is a cover band, but we won’t judge. Not a meat eater? Faux meat options abound, or try a thin puck of crispy hash browns.

Photo: Lauren V. Allen

Cheese

Nothing melts like a trusty blanket of sliced American cheese, and that’s what we use. But if you’re anti-American (cheese), shred whatever melty cheese you prefer: cheddar, gruyere, fontina, provolone.

Photo: Lauren V. Allen

Other toppings

Our favorite breakfast sandwich doesn’t need any more adornment, though we’ll occasionally throw some sliced avocado on top (because it feels healthy). Anything else risks throwing off the bread/egg/meat/cheese balance that makes a breakfast sandwich so great.

Photo: Lauren V. Allen

Condiments

Let your mood be your guide. We usually shake a few dashes of hot sauce on top and call it a day, though are mornings when our breakfast sandwich needs a thin smear of mayo or a squirt of ketchup as well.

Photo: Lauren V. Allen

The Method

There’s not much trickery involved when making a breakfast sandwich, and you can do it all in a single cast iron skillet. We like to toast our bread in a skillet first, then cook or meat, followed by the eggs (making use of whatever fat is left over from the sausage patty or bacon). At this point, you could assemble your sandwich and eat it right away, but there’s an extra easy step that will make a huge difference: wrap the assembled sandwich tightly in foil and set it inside the skillet for a couple of minutes, flipping it a couple of times.

This last step is both the easiest and most important of the entire sandwich-making process: the foil encasement will melt the cheese and rewarm the bread, turning the sandwich from a collection of components into an a.m. amalgamation. If you’re making a batch of sandwiches, you can wrap and warm them in a low oven instead.

Recipe

The Field Breakfast Sandwich

Yield: 1 sandwich
Photo: Lauren V. Allen

Ingredients

1 potato hamburger bun (or your preferred bread), split
Softened butter
Mayonnaise (optional)
1 sausage patty (the size of the bun, and about ¼ inch thick) or 2 slices bacon
2 large eggs
Large pinch of shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 slices American cheese
Sliced avocado, optional
Hot sauce, optional

Instructions

1.

Heat a No.8 (10 ¼”) or No.6 (8 ⅜”) cast iron skillet over medium heat. Spread some butter on the insides of the bun and toast, buttered side down, until golden brown. Set aside and spread with mayonnaise, if using.

2.

Add the sausage patty or bacon to the skillet and cook to desired doneness (or crispiness). Add to the bun, leaving any leftover fat in the pan, and immediately top with one slice of American cheese.

3.

In a bowl, beat the eggs with a pinch each of salt and pepper. If there’s not much fat left in your skillet, add a small knob of butter and melt. Pour the eggs into the skillet and stir quickly with a silicone spatula to form an even layer of eggs. Once the bottom has set, which will take about a minute, sprinkle the cheddar cheese (if using) into the center of the eggs, then use the spatula to fold the sides into to form a square about the size of your bun. Transfer the egg to the bun and immediately lay the remaining slice of American cheese on top. Turn off the heat.

4.

Top with sliced avocado and dash some hot sauce on top (if using) and close the sandwich. Wrap the sandwich tightly in aluminum foil and return to the skillet, letting it warm for about 1 minute on each side. Unwrap and enjoy.