For all of the discussion about bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches over the last two days — whether New Yorkers have a unique connection to them (no) and whether fancy or regular ones are better (context is everything) — oddly no one has bothered to dissect about what actually makes a good BEC. So here:
• The bacon can be savory or slightly sweet (“maple-glazed” or whatever) or cheap or fancy, but it must be smoky and salty and taste of pig, and most importantly, it should be crisp enough that it cleanly shatters and separates with a bite of moderate force (if you accidentally pull a full slab of bacon out when you bite into the sandwich because it is too chewy or too fatty, it is bad)
• The eggs, if scrambled, should be moist and fluffy and slightly salty and pleasantly eggy; if fried or over easy, the yolk should be goopy and silky and buttery, the whites tender (if the eggs taste too eggy, or wan, or overcooked, or rubbery, or they have any semblance of chew, it is bad)
• The cheese should be orange (American, but cheddar works, particularly on fancy BECs), sharp enough to both cut against the bacon and punch up the eggs, with a melty texture that is precisely between a solid and liquid (if it is so soupy that it sinks completely into and through the eggs, or so solid that you can you clearly discern the edges of the cheese slice and it does not have any elasticity when you pull away from the sandwich, or worst of all, tastes like nothing, it is bad)
• The species of bread is the one largely negotiable characteristic of a quality BEC, but a roll should have a slight chew to the outer edges, with a soft interior that pulls away easily when chewed and it should be delicious enough that you would eat it with only butter; a biscuit should be buttery and moist and slightly crumbly, but not so crumbly that it practically dissolves when you are less than halfway done eating the sandwich; a croissant should be flaky and tender and buttery; and a bagel (plain or everything) should have slightly more chew than a roll (but again, not so much that you cannot bite through it with ease), and (also, again) be edible with plain cream cheese. Crucially, the BEC innards should touch every edge of the bread, with overhang protruding from at least one end. (If your incisors cannot clean separate a bite from the rest of the sandwich, or the bread wholly swallows the guts of the BEC, or the integrity of the bread is such that the sandwich collapses in your hands, or the bread is not good enough to eat practically naked, it is bad.)
• The resulting sandwich, which should be delivered on a plate or wrapped in foil, and feel pleasingly dense in your hands, should be greater than the sum of these fine parts
N.b. If the BEC arrives on an English muffin or contains turkey bacon, any kind of pork except ham, plant matter, or condiments of any kind, get it the fuck outta here!!!!! A BEC on regular toast should not necessarily be thrown in the garbage, but it will always be inherently inferior.
Photo by krista