The iconic breakfast sandwich that's just 300 caloriesWhen McDonald's Egg McMuffin breakfast sandwich debuted in 1972, it perfected breakfast on the go with a sandwich that took everything that usually ended up on a plate - fried egg, toasted bread, and a side of bacon - and put it into a portable package. (The melted American cheese is a nice touch, of course.)
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At that point, a few McDonald's stores were offering breakfast, but none of the items on the menu were things you couldn't get anywhere else. Franchisee Jim Delligatti, who had helped create the Big Mac sandwich not long before, offered coffee, donuts, rolls, pancakes, and sausages at his store, for example. But franchisees who weren't offering breakfast didn't consider the potential gain worthwhile in light of the fact that they would have to open four hours earlier - Delligatti, for example, opened at 7 a.m. instead of 11 a.m., and at his store, breakfast only comprised 5 percent of sales. But before long, franchisees were yearning for a breakfast item that was more substantial than baked goods and a cup of joe, but didn't require customers to sit down in the restaurant with a fork and knife.
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That's when Herb Peterson stepped in. Peterson, a franchisee like Delligatti, also saw the potential of increased sales by opening his stores earlier to sell breakfast items. Inspired by a novel yet clumsy eggs Benedict sandwich from Jack-in-the-Box, Peterson set out to create something similar but with better execution. Peterson rejected runny sauces in favor of placing a perfectly cooked egg on top of a slice of cheese, resulting in that rich, almost creamy consistency. Poaching eggs would have been ideal, but would have taken too long, so instead, he improvised a cooking apparatus that involved placing six rings on a grill. Eggs would be cracked into each one, which is how they end up perfectly round.
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Peterson asked Ray Kroc, McDonald's founder, to come to his store to try the sandwich. Kroc was absolutely impressed, and added the sandwich to the menu. Breakfast now represents 15 percent of McDonald's sales, no doubt driven by the popularity of the Egg McMuffin.
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If you'd like to give it a shot, you can make your own McDonald's Egg McMuffin at home using store-bought ingredients, and the only special equipment you'll need is a ring mold about the size of an English muffin. Check out our step-by-step slideshow, or if you prefer to print it out and follow along, click here to see the McDonald's Egg McMuffin Recipe.
Credit: YouTube/mcdonaldscorp 1. The Setup
Ingredients. There's nothing fancy here in the way of ingredients - just a store-bought English muffin; a slice of Canadian bacon; some olive oil, vegetable oil, or cooking spray; water; about a tablespoon of butter; and a slice of American cheese that looks an awful lot like a Kraft single, but you didn't hear it from us. And an egg, of course.
Equipment. Again, pretty simple. You'll want a nonstick pan with a lid (or another nonstick pan that's the same size), a heatproof spatula, a paring knife, a cutting board, a pastry brush (if you're not using cooking spray), and a ring mold* about the same size as the English muffin (you'll see why later).
* Ring molds are available at most culinary supply stores and are priced at around $6-$10.
Credit: YouTube/mcdonaldscorp 2. Toast the Muffin
Pop them into the toaster, set the toastiness dial you way you like, and forget about them.
Credit: YouTube/mcdonaldscorp 3. Trace the Ham
Ever wonder how McDonald's gets the ham perfectly round? They don't start with round slices of ham. Place the ring mold on the slice of ham and carefully trace around the outside with a paring knife.
Credit: YouTube/mcdonaldscorp 4. Brush the Mold
Now we're going to use the mold again to get a perfectly round cooked egg. But first, you'll want to brush the inside of the ring with oil using the pastry brush, or give it a spritz of cooking spray. This will keep the egg from sticking to the mold as it cooks.
Credit: YouTube/mcdonaldscorp 5. Crack the Egg
Coat the pan lightly with vegetable oil using the pastry brush or cooking spray and place over medium-high heat. When hot, place the ring mold in the center and crack the egg into the pan. Break the yolk using the edge of a cracked shell.
Credit: YouTube/mcdonaldscorp 6. Just Add Water
Here's how McDonald's gets the egg nice and fluffy: Add a bit of water to the pan outside of the ring mold.
Credit: YouTube/mcdonaldscorp 7. Cover with a Lid
Then, cover with a lid to create steam as the egg cooks. If you don't have a lid but happen to have another pan that's about the same size, that works, too.
Credit: YouTube/mcdonaldscorp 8. Nice Simmer
Don't check constantly, but it's OK to take a peek once the water heats up to make sure that the egg is cooking properly. It should look something like this.
Credit: YouTube/mcdonaldscorp 9. Butter the Muffins
By now, the muffins should be done. Butter them up!
Credit: YouTube/mcdonaldscorp 10. It Should Look Like This
When the egg is done, most of the water should have evaporated. Remove the pan from the heat.
Credit: YouTube/mcdonaldscorp 11. Trace the Egg
The egg should pop out easily, but if it doesn't, carefully take a paring knife and trace around the inside of the mold.
Credit: YouTube/mcdonaldscorp12. Cook the Ham
Wipe out the pan, place back over the heat, and add the ham just to warm through.
Credit: YouTube/mcdonaldscorp 13. Cheese First
Take the heel of the English muffin (the technical term for the flat bottom of any bun) and place the cheese on top.
Credit: YouTube/mcdonaldscorp 14. Egg Next
Next, use the spatula to put the egg on top of the cheese.
Credit: YouTube/mcdonaldscorp 15. Ham Last
The ham should be about ready by now; add it on top and top with the crown of the muffin.
Credit: YouTube/mcdonaldscorp 16. Voilà! McDonald's Egg McMuffin Recipe
You're done! Devour and enjoy. The Egg McMuffin - that tasty and compact wedge of cheese, egg, and buttered toast - is only 300 calories. Plus, it's easy to make at home. So if you want to know how we get that egg and ham to be perfectly round, read on.
•1 English muffin
•1 wide slice Canadian bacon
•Olive oil, for coating the ring and pan
•1 tablespoon butter, softened
•1 slice American cheese, preferably yellow, not white
Pop the English muffin into a toaster and set it to the desired crispness level. Lay a ring mold (a round cookie cutter will work, too) over the bacon and trace a paring knife around its edge. The result should be a round slice of ham. Discard the rest.
Use a pastry brush to coat the inside of the ring with olive oil. Put the ring into a nonstick skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Lightly coat the skillet with olive oil using the pastry brush. Crack the egg into the ring; to break the yolk, use the edge of the cracked shell and tap.
Add a little water to the pan outside the ring and cover the pan with a lid. (This will create steam, which will help the egg cook well.) Cook until the whites have set and the water has nearly evaporated, about 1-1 ½ minutes.
Remove the egg from the pan, and remove the ring mold. (If it's a little hard to remove, simply use the paring knife to gently trace around the inside again.) Wipe out the pan. Put the Canadian bacon in the pan until warmed through, about 1 minute. Once the English muffin is toasted, lightly butter both halves. Layer on the cheese, egg, bacon, and the other half of the toast.
Makes 1 Egg McMuffin
Click here to see the step-by-step video from McDonald's Corp.
- Will Budiaman, The Daily Meal