Americans may think of the bacon, egg, and cheese as the quintessential hangover sandwich, but the best BEC around actually omits the E and the C. Behold the glory of the bacon butty.
The bacon butty (also sometimes called a bacon sarnie or a bacon bap, especially if served on a roll) is a British sandwich consisting of crispy bacon, butter, and either HP Sauce (a British “brown sauce” akin to steak sauce) or ketchup, all stuffed between two slices of soft white sandwich bread.
Bacon butties are not gourmet fare by any means. Yet they’re so popular throughout the United Kingdom that Prince Harry even organized a “survivor’s breakfast” complete with bacon butties the morning after Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton, dishing out the meaty treat to bleary-eyed revelers come daybreak. Royals, they’re just like us!
In Britain, you’re either team brown sauce or team ketchup, an allegiance that is somewhat dependent on geography. Personally, I’m team brown sauce, as I prefer its umami-tangy-Worcestershire-like kick to the more saccharine ketchup, but if a good bacon butty is placed in front of me, I will not discriminate. A ketchup-laced bacon butty is still more delicious than no bacon butty at all.
Preparing the sandwich couldn’t be easier. First fry up a few slices of bacon in a skillet until the edges are crisp and brown. You can use either thick-cut, British-style back bacon, or thinner American-style bacon. While the bacon is cooking and your kitchen fills with the glorious porcine aroma of sizzling fat, spread the HP Sauce or ketchup on the bread along with a smear of softened butter. Once the bacon is done, pile it high on the bread and enjoy.
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Like Britain, nearly every country in the world has distinctive and delicious hangover specialties. While researching my latest cookbook, Hangover Helper, I discovered many cherished hangover dishes from around the world. Mexican cuisine, for instance, offers a treasure trove of hangover delights including vuelve a la vida (a seafood cocktail whose name translates to “return to life”), menudo (a spicy tripe stew), barbacoa (barbecued goat), caldo de camaron (a spicy shrimp soup), and the michelada, the classic savory beer cocktail spiked with Maggi and hot sauce.
In parts of South Korea, meanwhile, you’re more likely to lap up a bean sprout-laden soup called kongnamul gukbap when you’re hungover.
In Canada you might nosh on gravy-soaked poutine, while in Colombia you’re more likely to slurp up an egg-and-milk soup called changua. While the bacon butty is not Britain’s most iconic hangover food — that honor would unquestionably be bestowed upon the traditional full English breakfast — I’d like to think it is the most beloved.
The simplicity of the sandwich means that you can make it even in the most hungover of states — those midmorning hours when your head is throbbing and your stomach feels like it’s been through the spin cycle of the washing machine. Its ingredients are limited and are likely already in your refrigerator.
You’re not going to serve a bacon butty if your friends come over for brunch. No, the bacon butty is an intimate sandwich, one best eaten alone, in your pajamas, standing over the stove. It is, in a word, perfect.