Growing up, I always favored sweet breakfasts over savory. Weekday breakfasts usually meant one brand or another of packaged breakfast cereal, and either pancakes or waffles generously doused in Aunt Jemima syrup typically made an appearance on either Saturday or Sunday. As I grew up, I slowly became more health conscious and progressively made an effort to reign in the unconscious sugar consumption. Old habits die hard though, and I still tend to favor a stack of fluffy pancakes over omelets at brunch. That said, there is a tiny restaurant in Cambridge called City Girl Cafe whose savory brunch options always trumped sweet in my book.
I always thought that City Girl (as we affectionately called it) was exactly the sort of place I would like to open if I ever entered the restaurant business. The place seated about 20 people, max, and even that was only accomplished by packing the tables so closely together that you had to turn sideways to walk between them. Three of the walls were painted a gray-ish navy and covered with eclectic vintage art; the fourth was painted with chalkboard paint and was covered with hand-written lists of drinks and specials. Baskets bearing large plants hung near the windows. Because space was at a premium, there was no room for customers to wait inside, so eager brunch-goers would leave their name on a list and head back outside to bide their time. Amazingly, even on the bitterest of Boston winter mornings, there was always a line.
The menu was a tightly curated list of City Girl twists on brunch classics. Though I probably tried most of the menu during my two years in Cambridge, I always came back to the egg sandwich. The traditional iteration of the egg sandwich – slightly greasy and oozy with American cheese – never really did it for me. Though the City Girl egg sandwich technically contains the same elements – bread, cheese, egg, bacon – it is a different thing entirely. City Girl takes the unfussy egg sandwich and fusses over it, in the best way possible. If you are looking for a quick brunch, look elsewhere, as this sandwich takes a bit of time to be made properly. If, however, you are looking for an egg sandwich worthy of holiday breakfasts, read on.
Goat Cheese and Egg Breakfast Sandwich
- French baguette
- Scrambled eggs (see notes, below)
- Goat cheese
- Yellow onion, julienned
- Thick-cut bacon
Heat a medium-size skillet over high heat. Add bacon, cook until done, and remove from skillet, reserving ~2T of bacon grease. Add the onions to the reserved bacon grease and turn heat down to medium. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, ideally almost jammy (note – this is the step that really requires patience. Though you can serve the sandwich with onions that have not been fully caramelized, as seen above, you will be richly rewarded if you wait. The onions play off the goat cheese best when they have been allowed to reach peak sweetness). While onions are cooking, scramble your eggs according to method listed below. Once either the eggs or onions are finished, whichever comes first, dump them out and wipe out the pan. Cut baguette in half, hollow out each half a bit, and place cut side down on your cleaned pan. Return pan to heat and warm bread until lightly toasted (you could, of course, also just toast the baguettes – either way works). To assemble sandwich, spread one half of the baguette with 1-2T of goat cheese. Top with scrambled eggs, 2 slices of the cooked bacon, and as many caramelized onions as you can pile on. Enjoy!
Crack eggs into a cold skillet. Add about 1T of butter for every 2 eggs. Transfer skillet to medium-low heat and begin to stir, slowly breaking up the yolks as you go. As soon as swirls of lightly cooked egg begin to form, remove the skillet from the heat and stir thoroughly for a few seconds. Return the mixture to the heat and continue cooking. Continue like this, removing the eggs from the heat about every 30 seconds to one minute for stirring. Eggs should be stirred continuously, on and off the heat. Stop cooking when the eggs are barely set, ideally still a bit runny, as they will continue cooking from the heat of the pan. Using this method, the eggs will take several minutes to cook, but will also be superlatively creamy.