I’m down to dedicate a lot of time to my lunch and dinners—ten courses on a Wednesday night? Sure! But when it comes to the first meal of the day, I just want something filling and easy. I’m currently working out of my anchovy on buttered knead love bakery sourdough phase and into a world of fried eggs. My favorite way to fry eggs is over medium high heat in a (very well seasoned) cast iron pan. The whites instantly sizzle and crisp, while the warmed yolk stays runny. There’s so much interesting texture and flavor without a lot of work.
Adding other ingredients to the oil as the egg cooks is quick way to infuse even more awesomeness into an egg. (Who knew it was possible!) I’ve tried everything from anchovies and capers for a salty, oceanic kick to garlic and herbs for a garlic bread vibe. Eggs are completely open to any flavor, so feel free to experiment until you find your favorite combo, I think I’ve found mine. Hello, pepperoni eggs!
But first, a little pepperoni history:
Pepperoni is 100% an American invention. The word it comes from, peperoni, means bell pepper in Italian. It is similar to Italian salame piccante, or spicy salami. Pepperoni started popping up in delis in lower Manhattan in 1919, but wasn’t found on pizzas until about 20 to 30 years later. While the specific seasonings vary from producer to producer, the general process remains the same. Classic pepperoni is made from a blend of pork and beef with seasonings that typically involve fennel, garlic, and peppers, and then stuffed into a casing and hung to cure into the gloriously smoky and spicy sausage it becomes.
These eggs are a perfect alternative to the classic bacon and egg breakfast. I get the same porky crunch, with a fraction of the mess and time. Since there are so few ingredients, sourcing is especially important. Specifically when it comes to the Spanish smoked paprika, try to buy a good one from a specialty store or online. A good paprika tints your oil a bright red, and adds a ton of depth to the pepperoni.
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 ounces pepperoni, sliced into thin strips
1 ½ teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika (sweet or hot)
Crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, making sure the yolks are intact.
Heat the olive oil and pepperoni in a medium cast iron pan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until pepperoni has rendered its fat and starts to crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pepperoni to a plate, leaving as much fat in the pan as possible.
Return pan to the heat and turn up to medium high.
Pour the eggs into the pan, they should start sizzling immediately.
Season the eggs with kosher salt and paprika.
One the eggs start to turn golden brown on the sides, start swirling the pan so the oil bastes the tops of the eggs. Use a spoon as well if necessary.
When no uncooked white remains, and the edges are crisp, transfer the eggs to a plate and top with pepperoni strips. Serve immediately.
I pair the pepperoni eggs with a couple untoasted slices of crusty sourdough, tempered cultured butter, and a ripe heirloom tomato seasoned with flaky salt. The tomato is crucial to brighten the savory intensity of the crisp pepperoni and runny yolk, keeping the breakfast from being too heavy. Even without the tomato, the pepperoni is surprisingly a much lighter option than bacon, with its lingering heat and airy crispness. Try the process with your favorite salami or plant based alternative, just make sure to add more olive oil if whatever you are using won’t render any fat.
Let me know your favorite way to crispy egg below!