Pulling Off Pizza for Breakfast

Credit: Rene Johnston / Getty Images

Pizza is always pizza, even when you serve it for breakfast: You use the same dough, the same toppings in different quantities. But for breakfast, you put an egg on it.

"The great thing about pizza is it's an easy, blank canvas to work with," says Nick Anderer, the chef at New York’s Marta. His breakfast pies have been lauded high and low: Pete Wells loves them and Bullett called him "The Roman Culinary Prince of New York."


You can use any dough you want — Anderer prefers a thin crust, but he’s just a thin crust kind of guy. Whether you like your pizza dough fluffy, soft, store-bought, or whole-wheat, it doesn’t matter. Do it. They all easily translate to a breakfast pizza as-is.

"It's mostly just the ingredients," Anderer says. "How inventive do you want to get with toppings?" There's a paradigm shift for breakfast: Traditional pies center around mozzarella, tomato sauce, pepperoni, maybe a little pesto, but your AM slice might switch it up with potatoes, sausage, bacon, cheddar or jack, and eggs. Not that you can’t make a stand-out breakfast pizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and an egg on top — you totally can, and it would absolutely be delicious — but if you're a home chef used to making simple, pizzeria-standard pies, you might have to learn to work with some new toppings.

Anderer’s "perfect breakfast pizza" is patate alla carbonara, a dish he serves on the brunch menu at Marta. Topped with crisped and crumbled potatoes, shredded mozzarella, whipped eggs, and guanciale—a cured meat made from pork cheeks (you can swap it out for bacon) — the pizza is a tasty interpretation of the traditional Italian dish.

You could thin-slice your potatoes and layer them on your pizza for an elegant look, but Anderer prefers to boil them, let them cool slightly, and crumble them. It makes a "knobby-looking exterior that catches all the eggs in the right places," he says. "As opposed to flat slices, it makes a nice, rugged texture." Cut your cooked guanciale (or bacon!) into thin, bite-sized pieces and sprinkle over the pizza. Together, the potato and the meat make a perfect base for your eggs.

There's a trick to adding an egg to a pie: Restaurant pizza ovens are often heated to 700° or more, and even when you’re cooking at home, you should push the temperature as high as you can. Eggs cook quickly and can easily transform from soft and runny to hard and gross.

"It's fun to use food science when putting eggs on pizza," Anderer says. "When you’re cooking at a high temperature, they only have a short time to cook." He recommends poaching the eggs ahead of time to set the whites—at the restaurant, they steam them at 150°F for half an hour, but at home, you can cook them in a Thermos for the same effect. Fill it up with hot water (you still want to aim for 150-155°F) and leave a little space for your egg. Once it’s sealed, let the egg sit in the hot water for half an hour.

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"They're just barely set on the inside, so when you crack them open there's a runny yolk and opaque whites," he says. Whip them up and drizzle them on the pizza as soon as you pull it out of the oven — they’ll cook in the residual heat and form an eggy sauce.

Feel free to play around: You can create a scrambled egg pizza by whipping up raw eggs, drizzling them on top of the pizza, and popping it back in the oven for 10 seconds. Or crack your egg straight onto the uncooked pizza for a sunny side up topping—just don’t let them cook for too long.

Once you've mastered the basic breakfast pizza, start inventing: Try artichoke, ham, olives, and a tomato sauce; avocado, queso fresco, and bacon. Really, any combination of ingredients your heart desires.

After all, as Anderer says, "If you throw an egg on anything, it kind of becomes breakfast." 

Patate alla Carbonara

For the dough, Marta uses a blend of King Arthur and North country flour. For the home cook, we recommend Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Pizza Dough.

Ingredients 

  • 1 lb. russet potato
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup shredded mozz
  • ½ cup sliced guanciale or bacon (in thin bite size pieces)
  • ½ cup grated pecorino romano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives
  • Coarsely ground black pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste

Directions

  1. Boil the russet in aggressively salted water with skin on until very tender, almost overcooked. Allow to cool slightly and crumble either by fork or hand into small rustic pieces. Allow the crumbled pieces to fully cool.
  2. Fill a thermos ¾ way full with 150 degree F water. Place eggs in thermos and close for 30 minutes. Remove eggs and cool in ice bath. Crack open into a bowl and whip.
  3. Preheat oven to 550-600 degrees F and place a pizza steel in the center
  4. Roll out 180 grams of dough to 11-12 inch diameter
  5. Scatter the crumbled potatoes to barely cover — you may not need the entire potato
  6. Scatter the mozz and guanciale (or bacon) evenly across the top of the potatoes
  7. Place into oven on the steel for roughly 3-4 minutes or until golden brown around the edges
  8. As soon as you remove pizza, drizzle the whipped egg all across the top
  9. Sprinkle the pecorino cheese over the whipped eggs
  10. Sprinkle the chives and cracked pepper over the top. Slice and serve