Wednesday Dinner: Pesto Breakfast Sandwich with Pancetta

Let’s get something out of the way upfront: I like bacon. Bacon is nice. The bacon we buy in vacuum-packed pouches at grocery is crap. When cut straight from the slab or purchased from the butcher, bacon is wonderful.


But pancetta…pancetta, my friends, is otherworldly. Rolled, seasoned and cured, this Italian take on salted pork belly is my preference for cooking. Need fat for your recipe? Render some pancetta. Want to add a little richness to a dish? Pancetta. Looking to add some flavor to ice cream? Well, not pancetta, but you get my drift.

I’ve never used pancetta as a replacement for bacon prior to these recipe, and now I’m not sure why. It cooks easier and faster than bacon, has much more flavor and is easier to deploy on this sandwich.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not turning my back on bacon, but every so often you need something extra. And, pancetta delivers.


WHAT WORKED: Oven-roasting the pancetta instead of pan-cooking. I’ve long been a believer in oven cooking bacon, so this was a no brainer. Also, the store-bought pesto added some bulk and creaminess to the eggs where additional dairy would have been utilized.


WHAT DIDN’T: We have one toaster in the house and it is a dedicated to gluten-free products for The Kid. I was concerned about griddle-cooking the rolls (i.e. burning them) but it worked out okay though I pulled them a little early.



BEST FOR: Weekend breakfast or brunch, or on the night when you want breakfast for dinner.

SERVE WITH: Orange juice. It only seems right.


Pesto Breakfast Sandwich with Pancetta
  • 4 oz. pancetta, sliced thin
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup prepared basil pesto
  • 2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • two kaiser rolls
  • butter
  • 1/4 lb. fontina cheese, sliced thin

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and move a rack to the center position of the oven.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay out the slices of pancetta, taking care not to crowd the slices. Bake 10 minutes, checking so the pancetta doesn't burn. When it's done, transfer the pancetta slices to a paper towel-lined plate.

In the meantime, crack the eggs into a medium mixing bowl. Add the pesto, parmesan cheese and milk to the bowl and whisk vigorously. Heat a nonstick skillet over high until you can no longer comfortably hold your hand over the bottom of the pan. Add the egg mixture and reduce heat to medium. Allow the eggs to cook undisturbed 3 to 5 minutes, or until the edges begin to bubble. Use a spatula to scrape around the sides and loosen the eggs, allowing the liquidy eggs to fall underneath the solid. Cook 3 to 5 minutes more or until the eggs are almost totally set. Remove from heat.

While the eggs are cooking, butter both sides of the sliced kaiser rolls. Set a second large skillet over high heat and place the rolls butter-side down on the pan. Cook 5 to 8 minutes, checking frequently to make sure the toasted sides brown but do not burn.

Set the bottom of a roll on a clean work surface. Add a slice of fontina cheese, followed by a pancetta round. Divide the eggs in half and move half of the eggs to the sandwich as the next layer, folding the eggs over if necessary. Add a second layer of cheese, followed by an additional pancetta round and the top of the roll. Repeat with the second sandwich.

By Jared Paventi, inspired by

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