I was swigging beer with some friends at Sadie Coles's new gallery in Mayfair a few weeks ago, and for some bizarre reason we got on to the subject of egg sandwiches. It's actually an interesting subject, because most egg sandwiches that get dished up are incredibly bland and have been made with no imagination whatsoever.
Some of my best ideas for columns have been conceived after a few glasses with a group of friends – so I thought it would be a good idea to write this week's column about eggy-breakfast sarnies. The other week I was recommended the black pudding sandwich at Fernandez and Wells in Beak Street, Soho (fernandezandwells.com) and it was fabulous – perfect for when you need that quick breakfast-fix on your way to work.
Fried duck's egg sandwich
I created this sandwich after the conversation with my friends in which we lamented the lack of good egg sandwiches available in the shops. We often do an alternative duck-egg mayonnaise in the restaurants by deep-frying the duck's egg – and in a sandwich it creates a lovely texture with the combination of that crisp exterior and the slightly soft yolk.
4 duck's eggs
1tbsp plain flour
1 hen's egg, beaten
40-50g fresh white breadcrumbs
Vegetable or corn oil for deep frying
4 soft baps or buns
A few leaves of crisp lettuce like iceberg or gems, washed and shredded
6-8tbsp good-quality mayonnaise
Soft-boil the duck's eggs by carefully placing in simmering water for 5 minutes, depending on their size, then refresh in cold water (if the duck's eggs are very large you may need to give them an extra minute or so). Once cool enough to handle, peel them, ensuring you have removed all of the shell.
Preheat about 8cm of oil to 160-180C in a large, thick-bottomed saucepan or electric deep-fat fryer.
Have 3 dishes ready, one with the flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, one with the beaten egg and the third with the breadcrumbs. Carefully pass the eggs through the flour, shaking off any excess, then the beaten egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Deep-fry the eggs for about 2-3 minutes or until golden, turning them as they are cooking, then remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on some kitchen paper.
Halve the buns, then mix about half of the mayonnaise with the lettuce and spoon on to the bottom half of the buns and spread the rest of the mayonnaise on the top of the bun. Cut the eggs half-way through; place on the lettuce and top with the other half of the bun.
Cheese and wild mushroom sandwich
I had a wild mushroom sandwich a few weeks back and although it tasted great, the mushrooms sadly ended up all over my shirt and on the floor when I attemped to take a bite. You can easily solve this by simply adding a few slices of cheese – not too strong-tasting – which will bind the mushrooms together. You could also, of course, make a flat mushroom omelette that gets sandwiched between two slices of bread.
8 slices of sourdough bread
1tbsp olive oil
A couple of good knobs of butter
300-350g wild mushroom, cleaned
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
4 spring onions, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
150g mild cheddar, grated
Cut the mushrooms into even-sized pieces. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan with the butter and cook the mushrooms, garlic and spring onions on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, turning and seasoning them as they are cooking.
Spoon them on to four of the slices of bread and top with the grated cheese and place the other slice on top. Grill on both sides for a minute or so, cut in half and serve.
Black pudding sandwich
This is a version of the Fernandez and Wells sandwich that I was scoffing the other week on my way through Soho. The quality of the black pudding is crucial as that cardboard-like stuff with the texture of sawdust just won't work.
8 baps or rolls or 8 slices of sourdough
6 duck's eggs, boiled for 5 minutes, then refreshed in cold water and peeled
4-6tbsp good-quality mayonnaise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
400-450g good-quality black pudding
Vegetable or corn oil for frying
Slice the black pudding into 1cm-thick slices if they are the large cylinder types or into 2 or 3 lengthways if they are the Bury-style puddings.
Chop the duck's eggs and mix with a good amount of mayonnaise and season well. Pan-fry the black pudding for about 2-3 minutes on each side.
Spread the butter on to the bread then spoon the egg mayonnaise on to one half with the black pudding on top and the other half of the bread on top.
Give the bread a light toasting on each side and serve.
Square sausage sandwich
You don't really see square sausages down South, but I cannot understand why we don't sell them – they're great for breakfast as you can slide your egg on to a slice of sausage or stack up your bacon and mushrooms on top. My preferred way is in a sandwich as it fits exactly in a small square-ish loaf shape; or you can alternatively flatten it to fit the bread.
If you're wondering where on earth you're going to find square sausages, the best thing to do is to make your own; simply buy some good-quality sausage meat and mould them with a fish slice or palette knife.
8 slices of a square good-quality loaf
500g good-quality sausagemeat
A little vegetable or corn oil for frying
Mould the sausagemeat into flat squares that are just a bit larger than your slices of bread.
Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan and cook the sausagemeat on a fairly high heat for about 2-3 minutes on each side.
Serve between buttered bread or non-buttered slices of bread.