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NYC’s Best Breakfast Sandwich Hacks, Week 1: Pernil

A continuing series on a New York City favorite

A breakfast sandwich held in hand with pernil, egg, and cheese
Ray’s Super Deli’s epic pernil breakfast sandwich

No edible item is more New Yorky than the breakfast sandwich, made with a partly scrambled egg, slice of American cheese, and choice of bacon, sausage, or boiled ham — and available at delis and bodegas in nearly every corner of the city. The Kaiser roll itself, supposedly named after the 18th century Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph, was probably introduced to New York in the 1870s, when yeast risen breads first appeared, while American cheese was invented a century ago by James L. Kraft.

But this cherished sandwich has been modified by time and contemporary preferences, and now variations can be found, or created. Appearing every Wednesday for the rest of summer and into the fall, this column will seek to ferret out those wayward modifications of a NYC classic.

New York’s classic kaiser roll
New York’s classic kaiser roll

Pernil Breakfast Sandwich

Pernil is a pork shoulder (also called a pork butt) rubbed with sofrito or some variation thereof and roasted into oblivion, or until a nice crust develops. It may have been invented in Puerto Rico, but it or some variation became popular in many Latin American countries. Instead of bacon, sausage, or ham in a breakfast sandwich, why not put in pernil?

That is just what has been done at Ray’s Super Deli, which has become somewhat of a refuge for construction workers in the West Village seeking reasonably priced breakfast and lunch. This particular item, currently priced at $4.99, is listed among the breakfast sandwiches, and it is fabulously gloppy and rich, with a thick slice of a pernil that has hints of oregano and garlic. Eat this sandwich for breakfast and you won’t be hungry till mid-afternoon. 452 Hudson St., between Morton and Barrow streets, West Village

Ray's Deli

452 Hudson Street, Manhattan, NY 10014 (212) 242-7912 Visit Website