Dinner Tonight: Pepper and Egg Sandwich

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[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

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When putting together the Chicago Food Glossary, a number of people chimed in that I had forgotten to include the pepper and egg sandwich, which was apparently a staple at hot dog stands during Lent. Even though another commenter noted that he'd eaten them in Boston, thereby disqualifying the item as a unique Chicago dish, all the talk finally got me interested in a sandwich that I'd always considered humble and, well, kind of boring. Perhaps I was missing something.

Thing is, all the versions I'd tried featured overly soft and mushy peppers mixed with dry and overcooked eggs. So my main focus was to make sure each component got a little more attention. Instead of cooking the peppers over moderate heat until soft, I took a trick from fajitas and cooked them over high heat. This resulted in peppers and onions with a slight smoky char, along with some actual texture. As for the eggs, I wanted them to be creamy and soft, which meant I had to go in the opposite cooking direction—low and slow.

This turned out to be easier to accomplish than I'd imagined. The peppers and onions are cooked over high heat, and then the heat is reduced to medium-low before the eggs are gently cooked. I was genuinely happy with the result, and the only addition I could think of was a drizzle of hot sauce and ketchup.