Pork Breakfast Sandwich

I have been keeping a BIG secret from everyone, including my family.  I apologize for that.  Now, I am letting you in on it….

January 28.  Wet.  Cold.  Grey.  Another wintry morning in San Francisco.  Nothing out of the ordinary. Worked out, got ready for work, made a latte, and sat down to enjoy the last moments of solitude before my day began.  I really cherish those 30 minutes of “me time”.  Sipping coffee, watching the day unfold, and reading a few emails.  Normally, I glance through my in-box, delete the crap, and put the email with names of people I know aside, so I can answer them once I get into the office.  This day, January 28, was a little different.

Helen.  This name really caught my eye, because, I don’t normally meet many Helens.  As well it was my grandmother’s name.  I glanced at the name for awhile, processing, who it could be.  I didn’t really pay attention to the subject line.  It was all slow motion.  Like opening a letter, one would receive in the mail.  Slowly, opening the envelop, as not to rip it.  Removing the folded piece of paper.  Unfolding it, and reading the words.  It was rather surreal.  Why?  This was an ordinary morning, after all.  I pondered on the name, and once I realized I did not know a “Helen”, I read the subject line, The SAVEUR Sandwich Photo Contest.  I thought about it.  Then I unfolded the piece of paper, and read the words that Helen wrote to me.

Dear Denise,


Thanks so much for submitting a picture of your absolutely extraordinary breakfast sandwich to the SAVEUR Sandwich Photo Contest – I’m very excited to let you know that you’ve won!


It was a near-unanimous vote – you really bowled the edit team over with that egg yolk-stuffed pork patty. Per the terms of the contest, your photo will be featured in the April issue of the magazine with full credit – but if you’re interested, we’d like to take it a step further and run the recipe for the sandwich alongside the picture. Would you be willing to share it with us?


Thanks so much – and congratulations again!
All the best,


It took a good 30 seconds to really hit me.  Then crowing like a morning rooster;  I bellowed, “OMG!”  As I ran through the apartment, to share the news with Lenny.

“I won.”

” I won.”

I am sure he was wondering, what the hell is she yelling about at this hour.  Won?  Won, what?   I plopped on the bed, and re-read the sweet words, and then it all made sense to him.  I was excited.  I wanted to tell everyone.  But …..


I took a step back.  To pinch myself.  Was I dreaming?  I have always dreamt of this from the first day I held a camera.  The only difference, was, that I thought my photos would include travels to far away places, shooting people, and animals (I read too many National Geographic issues as a kid).  This was the next best thing, sort of the National Geographic of food.


The next 48 hours were a blur.  I could not stop smiling.  Or re-reading that email.  I know, a bit corny, but, I was proud.  It was one thing that the photo was picked.  Another, that they wanted to print the recipe.  My photo.  Our recipe.


Once reality took hold, it was all clear.  Deadlines needed to be met.  We had to perfect this recipe, write it out, and get it back to Helen.  By Monday!  This recipe was in our heads.  Nothing had been written about it;  we had never shared it, except with the lucky few who got to put it into their bellies.  We had work to do.


A bit about the “breakfast sandwich”.  This was Lenny’s creation, as he has a deep love for all runny eggs. Wouldn’t it be fun to put a runny egg in the middle of a burger?  No one is doing it.  Sure, people are stuffing them with cheese;  but a runny egg?  The premise behind the “breakfast sandwich” deliciousness, was to create a sausage patty, with the egg hidden inside.  Topped with some hollandaise sauce to create a mixed up Eggs Benedict.  We had the flavors down.  The pork was to be simply seasoned.  The hollandaise buttery, and tart.  The English muffin was to be pan grilled, not just toasted.  And the egg.  It had to be nestled inside, and cooked just enough to still be runny.  A surprise, when you cut through the hollandaise drenched patty.


We spent the next 48 hours, playing with 8 pounds of pork, three dozen eggs, 2 avocados, 6 Meyer lemons, 1/2 pound of spinach, and a dozen English muffins.  The hardest part was getting the thickness of the patty, just right.  You want it to cook, but not over cook the egg.  We used cookie cutters to stabilize it.  We covered it.  We baked it.  We pan-fried it.  Stove-top grilled it.  You name it;  we probably did it.  Finally, after two days of cooking, and eating pork, we had it.  It was ready for the final taste test from our trusty taste tester, Ella.  The patty was perfect, crispy sides, slightly spicy, slightly salty.  The hollandaise was tart, and buttery.  The muffin was crispy.  The sauteed spinach and creamy avocado wrapped it all together.  And the surprise egg in the middle …………. was runny.  WE had done it, not only created the perfect breakfast sandwich, but, also the perfect photo to capture the moment.

Sorry for all the photos (Lenny and Tracy);  I just love them all.

I would like to thank a few people who made all possible:

Lenny. Thank you for being creative.  You may not be hands on in the kitchen, but the ideas are always flowing, and I love that about you.  Thank you for always being supportive and for putting up with me, while I chase these wildly, crazy dreams.  Thank you for believing in me, that means the world to me.

Ella. Thank you for being the best 7 year old taste-taster ever.  I admire your adventure, at such a young age, and hope the curiosity for new and exciting food lives with you forever.  Thank you for getting me to try crispy pig’s ears, which were delicious!

Penny. Thank you for lighting the fire, that had been put to sleep, some years ago.  Your words of experience have resonated in me.  The impossible is only impossible, if we don’t reach for it.  I am reaching.

Helen, and the team at Saveur.  This would have never happened, without all of you.  I am forever grateful and appreciative.  THANK YOU for this wonderful opportunity, and the recognition.  Humbling.

Tim. Thank You for your constructive criticism, and pushing me to keep at it, all the way from across the pond.  You are an inspiring mentor, and becoming a great friend.  I look forward to what lies ahead.  Thank You.

We both thank you, our readers, for your continued readership!  Let us know when you try this recipe, and what you think.

Check out the piece on the Saveur site as well.

Recipe: April Issue of Saveur, page 90.



  1. Jun Belen says:

    Congratulations, Denise! Such wonderful news and what a sandwich!!!

  2. Wow! Beautiful!


  3. woop woop!! CONGRATS! that is so incredibly exciting :)

  4. YEEEEE!Such a deserved honor. Congratulations, girl. You rock (and what an amazing post…fun to see the process!)

  5. WOOHOO! So happy for you! You deserve it – that picture is fabulous and the recipe sounds so, so good. Um, wanna make it for me?? ;)

  6. Congratulations, Denise! That’s fantastic news. I’ll be sure to look for your amazing sandwich in the next issue of Saveur.

  7. Congrats! LOVE the photo!

  8. alice says:

    How awesome! Congrats!!

  9. You won and SO deserved it!!!!!!!! I can’t wait to see the issue!

  10. What an honor and so well deserved – that is one amazing sandwich!

  11. Well done Denise! You’re getting better and better at this!I’m really enjoying your pictures… Just get yourselves back to Europe and lets have fun!

  12. OMG that’s so exciting! Saveur of all mags too- the king of amazing food photos. Next thing you know, you’ll be hangin’ w/ Penny de los Santos & won’t be speaking to the likes of me.

    Congratulations- look forward to that issue!

  13. How exciting! A well-deserved win, Congrats!

  14. Saw this news on Twitter and had to have a look. What a fantastic sandwich idea! Congratulations – I’m glad you won.

  15. OMG! I almost had to shout that aloud for you. That’s awesome. Congratulations, that’s a wonderful honor.

  16. Denise,

    As one of the nicest people in the food blog world, I am so happy that you are getting your moment in the sun. There will be many more. Also, as a very talented cook and photographer, this is just the beginning for you. So proud and SO excited! Can’t wait to celebrate with you.


  17. Hi Denise,

    Congratulations! This is a fabulous sandwich – no question it was (near) unanimous and your photography is beautiful.

    I used to follow your blog when I started blogging but somehow lost the connection…but I’m back!

    P.S. I was a runner up and also featured.

  18. You totally deserve it! Amazing photos! You rock sista!

  19. Awesome job with the juicy sandwich you guys! Denise, congratulations on the upcoming feature! You must and should be proud :-)

  20. I still have not held the print copy, and I’m going to stage a fit at Chapters (our Borders/B&N) if I don’t see it later. I’m celebrating this wonderful moment with you — something you so well deserve!!! So proud of you and I’m glad your awesome work is being recognized. Heck, yes, this is the National Geographic of the food world. What better way to debut your photo and recipe in print? Let’s toast to this with clinking glasses soon!

  21. Woo-Hoo! Way to go! And that’s quite the sandwich. It would go over quite well here since we’re into runny yolks. Nice job :)

  22. Congratulations!!! So happy for you! An honor so very well deserved!

  23. Oh my.

  24. Corinne Trang says:

    DECADENT!!! gorgeous photography…I’d devour that if it were in front of me right now. AND, congrats!

  25. YIPPEEEEEEE!!! So happy for you and cannot wait to see it in print! Chez Us rocks!

  26. Congratulations!! That is wonderful. I’m very happy for you!!

  27. mcs3000 says:

    Bet it tasted as awesome as it looks. Congrats, Denise!!!!!!

  28. I’m late to the party here because I couldn’t get on to your site most of the day yesterday! GO YOU! I am so proud of you. I also love that you just quietly get on with your own thing, doing what you do best and are rewarded with a fabulous honour like this. So, so, pleased. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer, more well deserving blog! xox

  29. Huge congrats! You worked hard and the photo is SO beautiful. PS it looks fantastic in the magazine :)

  30. Wonderful Words to accompany that GREAT PRIZE WINNING PHOTO!
    It’s something to say that you did it out of respect for the readers to be able to get it right,make the picture come alive, in their own kitchen. Thanks for crediting Tim Clinch- I cook for his photographs because we both share that belief that ‘getting it right’ is an obligation… as well as a pleasure to share with friends. Can’t wait to see you again in Gascony.

  31. I love this! And love that you’re sharing all the gory details of your excitement with us. Congratulations! I hope this is just one of many, many opportunities like this.

  32. Elizabeth @ Saffron Lane says:

    Just a quick note to say congrats! I have goosebumps for you! Truly a big day!

  33. Carol says:

    What a gorgeous photo and delicious recipe. It looks fabulous on page 22 of the current Saveur. Congratulations for a well-deserved win!!

  34. You go, girl! Congrats! I can see why the photo won. It just makes you want to take a bite out of the screen. ;)

  35. Good for you! I did purchase that issue because my friend Joan Nova was on the same page. This is so exciting for all of you. I love runny eggs and will have to give this a go as per your instructions! Thanks!
    Robin Sue

  36. I cried a little when I saw this picture… Amazing! Just… Amazing. I just ate breakfast and I already find myself looking forward to tomorrow!

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