perfect pickins for a breakfast sandwich…

Over the long MLK weekend, Local Pickins decided to stave off pesky New Year’s resolutions for just a few more days, and indulge in creating the ultimate breakfast sandwich.  After a passionate discussion amongst staff, it was decided that the creation would stay traditional and contain fixings of bacon, egg, and cheese, all sandwiched between hearty slices of crusty bread. The only other rule in this pursuit of the ultimate breakfast sandwich: each ingredient would be selected from a different local purveyor.

First up, Russo’s, the specialty food market located in nearby Watertown. Just a few minutes off of the arsenal, Russo’s is a popular purveyor that has a little bit of everything. For the purpose of this trip, Russo’s served as a great source for local eggs from free running hens. Although quite busy on a Sunday afternoon, a helpful sign taped onto the side of the dairy aisle made it easy to find the six or twelve egg cartons full of Chip-in Farm eggs. A local farm established in 1944, Chip-in Farm is based out of Bedford, Massachusetts and sends fresh eggs to Russo’s on a weekly basis. We cracked open a carton of these eggs to take a peek, and were quite impressed with the earthy brown color of these smooth sphere-shaped marvels.

Next, we headed over to Huron Village, to visit Formaggio Kitchen and High Rise Bakery. Conveniently located within a few minute walk of one another, they provide a great 1-2 punch for any of your bread, wine or cheese needs. Formaggio Kitchen had some delicious Brie cheese samples out for tasting, and employees seemed to use a real hands-on type service, steadily working through the crowd gathered around the large glass cheese case.  When it was my turn to be helped, I asked for a local cheddar or Gouda that might go nicely on a breakfast sandwich. I was quickly directed towards a best selling New Hampshire cheese from Landaff Creamery, a cheese in the cheddar family with a salty lemon tang and great melting potential.

After a quick taste test, and having a melt in your mouth type experience, we decided that the Landaff was the one for our breakfast sandwich. Now with the eggs and cheese under our belt, we headed over to High Rise Bakery to find what might be the most underrated part of a breakfast sandwich, the bread. High Rise Bakery has an open and warm feel, with the long medieval type picnic bench dining area integrating perfectly with the busy industrial oven zone. Immediately after walking in, we were drawn to the house made peasant loaves sitting in a large plastic blue crate. At $3.65, we felt these were quite the steal.

Finally, we headed across the Cambridge/Somerville line to pick up our bacon at Casa de Carnes Solucao. Situated in busy Union Square on Bow Street, Casa de Carnes isn’t flashy on the outside, but inside, the huge thick cuts of beef and pork sitting under the deli counter certainly provide some sizzle. After a couple misunderstandings and a bit of Spanglish later, we were headed back to the car triumphantly holding a quarter pound of bacon steak.

After arriving back home and admiring and considering the freshly purchased ingredients for a few moments, it became clear that we were ready to cook. Two gas burners were utilized, providing the heat for two heavy cast iron skillets. Although I was not the cook who enjoyed the hands on experience of cracking the Chip-in eggs into the skillet, I will say that as a casual observer, it seemed as though the eggs had a wholesome elasticity that lent to a great cooking distribution. I will admit that at this point in the cooking process, the thick bacon strips were crackling in their own delicious lipids, sending up big wafts of sweet smoky steam, rendering my powers of objectivity completely null and void. While the bacon and eggs cooked, we decided that it would be most exciting to construct the sandwich on the go, keeping everything cooking in one skillet all at once. To prepare, the Landaff was cut into thin rectangular strips to maximize the ease at which it could melt, and two generous slices of bread were cut and laid by the stovetop.

When the time seemed right and the eggs had been flipped, the cheese was layered over the steaming hot eggs, and the bread placed directly onto the skillet for a nice opening sear. After a couple minutes, we placed the eggs on top of one another, bunk bed style, and laid two cuts of crispy bacon over everything.  At this point, the bread had been seared, and was ready to begin integrating with the interior ingredients. We found that piling everything between the bread slices and pressing down with a spatula gave the most satisfying sizzle. In fact, I was stunned that I’d never thought to construct a breakfast sandwich in this way, as by transferring the egg, cheese, and bacon to the bread while still cooking everything on the skillet, the bread melds and interacts with a whole other complexity than if simply toasted and added post skillet-cook.

As I prepared to take my first bite into this piping hot Local Pickins creation, I wondered for a split second whether I should have added some ketchup. A mouthful of sweet yet salty bacon, warm gooey yolk, and tangy sharp cheddar later, I was no longer aware of the term “condiment”. I was truly amazed at the difference in quality that emerged from this sandwich that had been sourced entirely from high quality local ingredients. Holding this hearty sandwich in my grasp, I could truly feel the weight of the food that had gone into producing our creation. From Russo’s to Formaggio Kitchen, and High Rise Bakery to Casa de Carnes Solucao, the journey of this food experience was quite clear… deliciously perfect!

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