'Wich Hunt

Any sandwich can be breakfast, but not every sandwich is a breakfastsandwich. You know the kind: one that's oozing with cheese or runny egg between thick hunks of any-carb-will-do.

We asked three chefs around the country to dream up a breakfast sandwich for us. The only rule? Each has to use some form of meat, egg and cheese on their final creations.

For Marjorie Meek-Bradley, chef at Ripple in Washington, D.C., this meant dressing up the classic New York combo of lox and cream cheese. Late dinner shifts and missed meals have led to a deepened relationship with the bodega special: "When I worked in New York, it was the only meal I'd eat at least two or three times a week," she says.

At Toups' Meatery in New Orleans, Isaac Toups looks forward to Fridays, when the general manager brings breakfast sandwiches for all. So he tapped into his love of cured meat for a Spanish ham-and-cheese combo.

And Ashley Christensen delivered a sandwich version of a classic hash dish. The chef at Poole's Diner and Death & Taxes in Raleigh says, "We were one of those hectic households getting ready for school. Everything that would've been breakfast was shoved between two pieces of bread on a paper towel."

No matter 'wich one is your favorite, each one with help you go H.A.M. (and egg and cheese) on breakfast.

—The Cali Girl—
Adapted from Marjorie Meek-Bradley, Ripple, D.C.
Though Meek-Bradley is a California girl at her core, she's a devoted fan of New York breakfast sandwiches. Her dream sandwich is a morning version of the sprout-topped sandwiches she loved while growing up out West, with East Coast accoutrements. Bonus tip: Make morning assembly a breeze by poaching your egg ahead of time.

2 tbsp cream cheese + 1 brioche roll, halved and toasted + 4 slices gravlax + ½ avocado, thinly sliced + kosher salt, to taste + 1 poached egg + 2 tbsp alfalfa sprouts

Spread the cream cheese on the bottom half of the roll. Layer the gravlax over the cream cheese and fan the avocado on top. Season with salt. Place the egg on the avocado and top with alfalfa sprouts. Top the sandwich with the remaining half of the bun and serve.

—The Ham of La Mancha—
Adapted from Isaac Toups, Toups' Meatery, New Orleans, LA
Toups has more than earned his stars where Cajun cuisine is concerned, but his Basque flair doesn't go unnoticed on his sando. He uses Garrotxa, a Spanish goat cheese, to balance the salty cured ham, then brings it back south with puffy Texas toast.

2 slices Texas toast + 2 slices Iberico ham + ½ oz shaved Garrotxa cheese + 1 over-easy egg + ¼ c arugula

On top of one piece of Texas toast, layer the Iberico ham, cheese, egg and arugula. Top with the other piece of Texas toast and serve.

—The Short Rib Hash—
Adapted from Ashley Christensen, Poole's Diner, Raleigh, NC
Years of diner trips during her father's truck-driving days and old-timeyPoole's as her first restaurant inspire Christensen's creation. "There are two schools in putting runny egg on a sandwich," she says, "but I love cutting into it and seeing the yolk ooze onto the plate." Take her advice and repurpose the punchy mayo blend for future sandwich endeavors (she was hard-pressed to think of a sandwich that wouldn't benefit from a smear of it).

Short rib hash: 3 tbsp oil, divided + 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced + 1 lb cooked short ribs, diced + 2 lb cooked Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered and sliced ½ in thick + 4 tbsp butter, melted + kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onions and cook until tender, about 12 minutes. Transfer the onions to a bowl and set aside. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and return the skillet to medium heat. Add the short ribs and sear, turning as needed until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the reserved onions, potatoes, butter, salt and pepper to the pan, and cook until crisp in an even layer, then flip to crisp the other side, 3 minutes per side.

Sandwich: 1 tbsp mayonnaise + 1 tsp Dijon mustard + 1 tsp horseradish + 2 slices rye bread, toasted + ¾ c short rib hash (recipe above) + 2 slices Jarlsberg cheese + 1 fried egg

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard and horseradish, then spread the mixture on each slice of bread. Top one slice with the short rib hash, Jarlsberg and fried egg, then top with the remaining slice and serve.