Editor's note: This article was first published March 11, 2018. We're bringing it back because it's Sunday and you're probably brunching right about now. If not, here's some tasty inspiration ...
NEW YORK (CIRCA) — When most people take a bite of a particularly great doughnut, they’re probably not immediately thinking of ways to add a fried egg to it. But Ken McCoy, New York City restaurant owner and the brains behind brunch mashups like the pancake burger and the breakfast waffle sandwich, isn’t like most people.
When a meeting at a Manhattan food hall first brought a doughnut from Dough into McCoy’s life, it was love at first bite. The famous New York City institution makes what McCoy describes as a "serious doughnut," unlike anything he had tried before.
"I had one of their doughnuts one day and just could not believe how tasty it was," said McCoy.
He knew from that very moment that he wanted to incorporate the doughnut into his menu at the Horny Ram, a Midtown East restaurant known for its playful and indulgent brunch offerings. Beyond its delectable taste, the doughnut seemed particularly well-suited to serve as a bread substitute, given its substantial size and weight. And McCoy is fond of doing away with bread.
While it didn’t happen right away, Dough stayed in the back of his mind. McCoy was entirely unable to forget that luscious taste and the promise that he made to find a place for those doughnuts in one of his restaurants. And sure enough, the idea of using the doughnut resurfaced a few months later, during conversations about adding a sort of "hangover cure" dish to the menu.
The Horny Ram’s brunch menu is anything but boring, with plenty of unique twists on typical dishes helping it stand out from the myriad of brunches available in Manhattan. So, McCoy figured that everyone loves a good bacon, egg and cheese, but he saw the doughnut as the perfect opportunity to get creative, the perfect substitute for the monotonous roll or bagel usually associated with the sandwich. The restaurant began to play around with exactly what a doughnut bacon, egg and cheese would look like, and after testing out a few spicy ideas, it eventually settled on avocado mayo, inspired by the way that the green mayo looked with the yellow of the egg yolk.
Though part of this decision stemmed from those aesthetic motivations, it’s of course based in taste as well. And despite any hesitation that you might be feeling in regard to the unusual combination of a glazed doughnut and avocado mayo, you’re likely to find yourself surprised when you actually take a bite of this sandwich, hungover or not. Because no matter how ridiculous it might sound on paper (and it sounds pretty ridiculous), it’s actually delicious.
Don’t believe that? Before you dismiss the doughnut bacon, egg and cheese, take a moment to think of the times you’ve enjoyed a balance of sweet and salty. Maybe it was a salt rim on your margarita, or a french fry dipped into your Frosty or McFlurry (which you should definitely try as soon as possible if you haven’t yet, just saying). It could have been sea salt caramels or chocolate-covered pretzels. Or maybe you’ll defend Hawaiian pizza to the grave, because yes, pineapple does belong on pizza. Kettle corn, anyone? We could go on and on.
As a matter of fact, there’s actual science behind our appetite for the sweet-and-salty combo. To put it as simply as possible, the presence of salt intensifies the sweetness. In Japanese, the sensation is called "amajoppai," and while there might not be an exact English translation to sum up the concept so succinctly, it could be called "the extremely delicious layering of salty and sweet." No, that’s not quite as eloquent, but it’s undeniably accurate.
So, if you’re the type of person to dip fries in your Frosty, if you’ve been looking for a brunch to fulfill your desire for "amajoppai" or "the extremely delicious layering of salty and sweet," this sandwich is a must-try addition to your brunch bucket list.
Bacon and doughnuts are certainly no stranger to each other, given the once-trend but since turned standard of incorporating the savory meat into various desserts. If you’re simply looking for a bacon doughnut in New York City or really anywhere, you won’t have any trouble finding one. Wikipedia even has an entire article dedicated to maple bacon doughnuts, and that’s how you know it’s serious. And it goes way beyond doughnuts. Bacon chocolate bars, bacon ice cream, bacon cupcakes … it’s all been done. No one would blink twice at that mix of ingredients.
The fried egg, though? That might make you pause. Sure, every doughnut from Dough is made with eggs, but the ingredient is incorporated into the recipe during the baking process, rather than fried separately and then sandwiched in between two halves of the doughnut. When you order an individual doughnut from Dough or any other doughnut shop, you're not actually going to be able to taste the flavor or the texture of the egg, and you certainly won’t have to worry about any mess made by runny yolks.
How about cheese and doughnuts? Sure, a cream filling could potentially satisfy any dairy cravings you might be having, but that’s definitely not the same thing as slices of cheese. Not even close. Because that just isn’t your standard combination.
And while avocado has definitely enjoyed a prolonged moment in the spotlight, the idea of putting avocado mayo on a doughnut is completely unheard of. The trendy ingredient can be found on toast, in smoothies, and even as a dessert in the form of avocado mousse, but it’s not something that anyone would ever put on doughnuts. It’s everywhere … except on doughnuts.
But the Horny Ram puts all of it on a doughnut. By all logic and reason in the world, even with the recognition that salty and sweet complement each other, a doughnut bacon, egg and cheese shouldn’t work. Avocado mayo doesn’t belong on a doughnut. Eggs? Cheese? Those don’t either. Right? But somehow, it works. It really does. It’s OK if you doubt it, because I did, too, but there’s something about that flavor combination that makes you take another bite and another and another, until you’re staring at an empty plate because you’ve just eaten an entire doughnut bacon, egg and cheese.
The Horny Ram calls it the "Drunk BEC," with the understanding that such a sandwich will most likely appeal to those who are currently drunk and those who drank so much the night before that only the most greasy and obnoxious of dishes could possibly cure their hangover. With that in mind, it currently offers the sandwich only late at night on weekends and during its extravagant brunch. However, the Horny Ram has seen so much love for the dish that it's likely to add it to its all-day menu.
"I’m going to add a section called 'Brunch 24/7,' with maybe two or three items, in case you feel like having brunch on a Tuesday or a Thursday night," said McCoy of the future reworking of the Horny Ram’s menu.
Because you might not think you need a doughnut bacon, egg, and cheese on a Tuesday night, but you do. You really do.
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