April 1, 2012 at 9:15 AM ET
Going beyond the basic bacon-egg-and-cheese, chefs across the country are giving breakfast -- and breakfast sandwiches -- a level of respect usually reserved for dinner.
At Meat Cheese Bread in Portland, Ore., chef John Stewart devised The Maple, made with toasted slices of fresh maple-currant bread pudding in place of a typical roll. The creamy exterior gives way to a sausage patty, gooey melted chipotle-cheddar cheese and fennel shavings to temper the sweetness. Other chefs, like John Currence at Big Bad Breakfast in Oxford, Miss., are coming up with hangover-halting monsters. Currence created The Pylon, an open-faced waffle sandwich of sorts that features a split, griddle-fried hot dog, chili, slaw, cheddar, mustard, chopped pickles, onion, jalapeño peppers and oyster crackers. This one requires a knife and fork.
Southern-inspired food has become a widespread trend, morning meals included. Seattle-based chef Tom Douglas of Dahlia Bakery recently opened Serious Biscuit, which serves over-the-top sandwiches made with local ingredients on the house specialty: a rustic, Southern-style biscuit. The hearty offerings have made the café a food destination in South Lake Union, a neighborhood more known for office buildings than great restaurants. During the week, nearby businesses keep the cooks busy with lunch orders by the dozen, but Douglas' weekends are getting busier. “People are coming there now on Saturday mornings when there’s no other reason but to have a biscuit,” he says.
Serious Biscuit’s most popular sandwich is one stuffed with fried chicken and topped with Tabasco black pepper gravy–the recipe for which will appear in "The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook" when it's released in October. A more traditional breakfast biscuit includes an egg, fennel sausage, Fontina and peperonata (stewed peppers). Regardless of the multitude of creative combinations on Serious Biscuit’s menu, Douglas has a few simple requirements for a great breakfast sandwich. “To me, it needs to go great with coffee,” he says. “It needs to be warm and luscious -- that’s why I like to have the hot sausage or the hot chicken. And there needs to be a toasted edge on the biscuit to have that different texture on the palate.”
More from Food & Wine