Swap Out The Bacon For Buttery Carbonara Breakfast Sandwiches

If you like eggs, bacon, and cheese, chances are one of your favorite dishes is pasta carbonara, made with a very simple mixture of long noodles such as spaghetti or bucatini, grated pecorino romano cheese, eggs, and cured pork jowl known as guanciale. It is a dish that epitomizes the classic Italian philosophy of cooking: Simple ingredients put together to make a symphony of taste and texture. But why restrict these fantastic flavors to dinner when you can enjoy them in the morning?

Consider the standard breakfast sandwich, which contains very similar ingredients: eggs, cheese, and bacon, which has long reigned as the undisputed king of savory, smoky goodness. By swapping out the normal cheddar and bacon and replacing them with guanciale and pecorino, the result is a creamy delicious filling for toasted crusty bread, bringing the familiar flavors of the carbonara to the breakfast sandwich. Guanciale and pecorino romano cheese bring a depth of flavor that bacon can't quite match, alongside a more complex, buttery, and nuanced note.

Making a carbonara breakfast sandwich

The first tip to making a good carbonara breakfast sandwich lies in the choice of bread. To provide textural contrast to the creamy eggs and cheese, you should use bread that has a proper crust and crunch. Focaccia is a good choice, as are thick slices of toasted sourdough. Alternatively, an English muffin will also provide the right texture with its signature nooks and crannies — perfect to soak up a runny egg yolk. Toast the bread and butter them, with the butter providing a moisture barrier to prevent the bread from getting too soggy.

Another trick for this sandwich is to render the fat from the guanciale to fry the eggs. Considerably fattier than regular bacon and more flavorful, the fat rendered from guanciale will imbue your scrambled eggs with more flavor. So chop your guanciale into matchsticks and heat them in a cold pan slowly until the fat gets rendered — and the guanciale gets crispy. Take out the guanciale and use the fat to scramble the eggs and add the pecorino romano cheese near the end. This should give you scrumptious, smoky scrambled eggs, and if you use a whisk instead of a spatula, the eggs will be even smoother and creamier than regular eggs.

Carbonara everything for breakfast

Since carbonara is just a great way to use up eggs, cheese, and bacon, there are practically endless ways to combine the three elements for everything. For example, you can replace the scrambled eggs in the sandwich by frying the eggs sunny side up or over easy style in the rendered guanciale fat. Instead of grating the pecorino cheese, shave thin curls from the block and shower it over the fried egg and guanciale. The runny yolk will instantly form a sauce with the cheese, making a creamy center for a breakfast sandwich. For a note of vegetable brightness, add a sliced avocado half or a slice of tomato to bring the sandwich to the next level.

Another way to make use of the elements of carbonara for breakfast is to make a breakfast frittata. Whisk together several eggs and grated pecorino cheese while the guanciale renders. Add a generous amount of ground black pepper into the eggs, and pour the mixture into the pan while stirring — before turning the heat to low and letting the egg set slightly. Place the pan into a low oven and bake until the entire mixture is set but not overcooked.