Giancarla Bodoni loves breakfast sandwiches. Packed with crunchy bacon and a fantastically runny sunny-side up egg, the chef says this handheld feast makes her feel “prepared to conquer the world.”
Bodoni is the executive chef at the lavish Italian hotel, Monteverdi Tuscany, which is located inside the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Val d’Orcia. She began developing her version of the classic bacon-and-egg about a decade ago and was inspired by the hotel’s many American guests.
Needless to say, it was hit and has become a staple on her menus. “We’re surrounded by farms and food as far as the eye can see,” says Bodoni. “The beautiful thing about Val d’Orcia, where we are located, is the fact that a majority of our food producers and wine producers have been producing the food in the same way for hundreds of years. It’s very respectful of the land and they respect their animals.”
The chef, who typically doesn’t eat breakfast until after she’s taught her morning culinary class at Monteverdi, builds on the basic bacon-and-egg combo with dressed arugula, mashed avocado, chili-and-herb mayo and a thick slice of tomato.
“I need something that’s super substantial,” she says. “This is basically a meal that lasts for many, many hours and it’s got many nutritional components and all of my favorite ingredients. It’s a lot of things going on, but they harmonize so well.”
Find out how Chef Bodoni builds her perfect bacon-and-egg breakfast sandwich, so you can feel prepared to conquer the world, too.
Rather than using a standard roll, English muffin or crusty bread, Bodoni opts for toasted slices of homemade brioche.
“If people want to challenge themselves, making brioche is not difficult,” she says. “The important thing is having a little bit of patience because it needs to rise properly. And making sure, as you handle it, you don’t deflate it because you really want that air staying inside the dough.”
Just before assembling the breakfast sandwich, Bodoni also likes to toast the sides of the bread in a bit of butter and season them with some salt to give them a caramelized crunch and added richness.
One of the secrets to the sandwich’s deep meaty flavor is that the chef fries the egg in the bacon fat. As a self-proclaimed “huge egg lover,” Bodoni likes to make sure that there’s plenty of runny yolk to saturate a breakfast sandwich as she’s eating it, so she sticks to an over-easy preparation. The eggs she uses at her restaurants come from hens at a farm that’s not quite two miles up the road from Monteverdi.
Bodoni skips the typical cheese, ketchup or hot sauce found on many breakfast sandwiches and instead makes her own chili, parsley and lemon juice mayonnaise.
“I like the savory breakfast to be a little on the hot side,” she says. “So I add chili and then parsley (it has a beautiful green color) and a little dash of lemon for a little acidity because it’s a little on the fatty side. I think it has just a delicious taste on the bread.”
She also layers in sliced fresh tomatoes, mashed avocado and a handful of arugula. For something a little extra, the chef sometimes also adds a drizzle of honey to the mix.
As for tomatoes, Bodoni says any variety will do, but she prefers Cherokee Purple or beefsteak plucked straight from the vine. “I have this vivid memory of every summer in the garden outside of my Culinary Academy. We have these beautiful beefsteak tomatoes that grow and I pick them, warm from the sun, slice them and put a little bit of salt. This flavor is so beautiful.”
Building this overstuffed sandwich can sometimes prove tricky, especially when there’s runny egg yolk involved. That’s why Bodoni has come up with a particular assembly order to ensure it won’t fall apart in your lap.
“The stability of the sandwich is important,” she says. “If you stack it property, it will make a big difference.”
After toasting the brioche slices in a bit of butter, she “lathers” the mayo mixture on the inner portion of each piece to ensure it flavors each bite. Then she’ll place the bacon on the first slice of bread, followed by the avocado “because it kind of grips onto the bacon.” Next is the tomato slice and the sunny-side up egg. The arugula goes on last—which will help to catch some of that runny egg yolk and hold it in without saturating the slice of bread that tops the whole thing off.
“Because the brioche is so soft, you can kind of just squish it a little bit and all your components are not going to fly out of the bread,” says Bodoni. “When your bread is a little more firm, it kind of tends to drop off to the side, but this one is really nice.”
- 2 strips Crispy bacon
- 1 Egg, over easy
- Salt & pepper
- 3 Tbsp Mayonnaise
- 1 Fresh chili, as hot as you like it
- .25 cup Parsley
- 1 tsp Lemon juice
- 1 handful Arugula
- Virgin oil
- .25 Tbsp Apple cider vinegar
- Half an avocado, mashed
- Tomato, sliced
- Crisp your bacon in a pan and set aside. In the bacon fat, cook the egg and season with salt and pepper. I like my egg runny, but this is up to your preference.
- In a mortar or, if you prefer, a blender, mix the mayonnaise, chili, parsley and lemon juice until you have a paste.
- In a bowl, dress the arugula with olive oil, apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper, and set aside.
- Season the avocado mash and tomatoes.
- To assemble the sandwich, slice your brioche as thick as you like it. I love to toast it with butter in a pan until golden and sprinkle it with salt.
- Spread the mayo on the slices of the brioche and begin to stack the rest of the ingredients. This also works great if you double it up for open face sandwiches, too!