My last night home alone, and the cupboard is fairly bare except for some eggs. In such a situation, I would usually make a scrambled egg or omelet. This time, though, I had a craving for a fried egg sandwich. I remember feasting on one at 2 AM while in college.
Cramming for exams (I know, you’re not supposed to do that. ) or finishing up a multi-page research paper always generated hunger. When we needed a study break, a group of us would load up in my Nash Rambler convertible. (You probably didn’t even know there was such a car. ) Then we would drive across town to an all-night diner, The White Palace, situated next to the train tracks. The place should definitely not be confused with the iconic White Castle of the East Coast. It was definitely a greasy spoon. The coffee, while terrible, was strong enough to keep a diligent student going until dawn. The specialty of the house was their fried egg sandwich, and it was delicious. The egg was fried over-easy to make sure that the yolk was still runny. You definitely needed a napkin to keep it from running down your arm. The sandwich was layered with a thick slice of Bermuda onion, mustard, and mayonnaise. For an extra charge you could get a slice of ham. I thought it was one of the most delicious things I had ever eaten.
After college, one of my most treasured memories was the fried egg sandwiches at the White Palace. I wanted to share my joy with others. My wife was not as taken as I was. Neither was our older daughter, who can’t stand onions. But my son became a devotee, and sometimes I would make the two of us a sandwich – usually as a midnight snack. Later, whenever my son came home for visits from college he would request a fried egg sandwich. Even now, when he visits with his family I will occasionally make him a fried egg sandwich to his great delight.
There are certain obligate elements of this decidedly unrefined dish: fried egg, of course; cheese; and onion. Mayonnaise and mustard are optional, but ketchup is considered heretical. Ham or – in a pinch – bologna can be added, but they are not considered to be totally authentic. The single absolute technique required is that the yolk must be runny. The runnier the better. For serving utensils, a plate is useful, although a napkin is a necessity as you may wind up eating the sandwich over the kitchen sink. I know you will enjoy this version of the fried egg sandwich. You may think up your own variations; just don’t stray too far from the real thing.
Fried Egg, Cheese, and Onion Sandwich
- 2 slices good quality sourdough white bread
- 1 ounce cheddar cheese
- Romaine lettuce
- white onion, slices as thick and as many as you like
- salt and pepper
- Toast the bread to taste, butter one side, and place on counter for sandwich assembly.
- With a cheese plane, prepare enough slices of cheese to completely cover the slices of toasted bread to your preference.
- Arrange lettuce leaves on one slice of the toasted bread. Arrange sliced onions on the other slice of toasted bread.
- Melt some of the butter in a small sauté pan. Over low to medium-low heat, fry the egg gently on one side. Turn over once just long enough to set the egg white. Transfer to one of the waiting bread slices.Close up the sandwich and eat immediately. Under no circumstances should you cut the sandwich in pieces.