I’m all for brunch. It’s as a great social event as it is a food one, and sometimes after a night out, maybe you need that extra bloody mary and a debrief with your friends of the past night's events to help bring you back to life. What I don’t always like about brunch is that it can be pricey. So why not start hosting brunch at home? You can control the menu, not have to dress in clothes meant for public eyes, and it’s much cheaper too.
Let’s look at how you can make a kick ass brunch at home.
When feeding a crowd, breakfast and brunch are some of the easier meals to cook big batches of food for. But don’t get locked into scrambled eggs and toast as your big-batch food staples. There are other options that require little babying and extra attention and can be as easy to make as tossing things in an oven until done. Consider some of these other options to join your spread:
- Southwest – Cooked onion, red and green bell pepper, browned sausage, pepper jack cheese
- All the Meats – Breakfast sausage, crumbled cooked bacon, diced ham, cheddar cheese
- DC Basic Bitch – Browned chicken-apple sausage, sautéed kale, onion, Parmesan
2. Big Batch Breakfast Taters – Everyone loves hot, crispy breakfast potatoes, so cook up a big batch of potatoes in the oven instead of on the stove. Dice up some russet potatoes into 3/4 inch cubes and toss with a heavy drizzle of canola oil and season with salt, pepper, and chili powder to taste. Spread onto a large baking sheet and put it into a pre-heated 400 degree oven and roast, stirring and flipping occasionally, until brown (about 25 minutes). Serve on its own or toss and mix in other complements like sautéed pepper and onions or top with shredded cheese and bake more until just melted.
3. Oven Bacon – After trying this out once, I don’t know if I will ever cook large batches of bacon any other way ever again. Line a large baking sheet with your bacon strips one-layer deep and toss into a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Cook until brown or until desired doneness, no need to flip. Congrats, you just made strips on strips of perfectly cooked bacon for the masses or just for yourself. Once the pan cools, you better be saving that rendered bacon fat in a jar. Otherwise, a Southern grandma will be angrily knocking on your door real quick. You’ve been warned.
5. Fruit Salad – Yeah, it seems a little weird, but everyone likes a big bowl of fruit salad even though nobody ever really thinks about it beforehand. You can even prep it the night before and store it in the fridge so it’s even easier. Just be sure to combine fresh fruit that is in season. My current go-to combo – halved grapes, pineapple chunks, diced mango, sliced strawberries, and whole blueberries.
1. Coffee – As much as I love my French Press, for big crowds, sometimes the classic drip coffee maker is the easiest way to go. Set it to brew early and have a pot ready to go when your friends arrive. If it’s early or after a night out, they, and you, will greatly appreciate it. If you have a Keurig instead, set out a bowl of K-Cups and make sure the machine’s water reservoir is full.
2. Make a Build-Your-Own Bar – The less work you have to do as the host, the better. For drinks like mimosas, bellinis, and bloody marys, set out the ingredients in a bar with a bowl of ice and cups and have your guests make their own. That way people can pick their own drink strength and combos and you don’t have to worry about if you made it too weak or strong.
3. Water – Another often overlooked staple, have a pitcher or carafe of water ready to go when people arrive. It seems simple, but it’s often forgotten until it’s too late and people are already arriving.
1. Have your Guests Set the Table – Again, the less work you have to do as the host, the better. Clear off the dining table and pile on the plates and utensils you plan on using. When your first guests arrive, inevitably someone will ask “Hey, how can I help?” Boom, set the table. They feel helpful and you don’t have to deal with putting out and organizing forks and knives for a crowd. Double bonus points if you get your guests to clean up after too.
2. Music – Silence is deadly. Ever go into a store or restaurant and you feel uncomfortable and want to leave? It’s probably at least partially to do with the dead, silent air. The creepy guy behind the counter who won’t stop staring probably also has to do with it, but that’s not my problem. Anyways – music is key. You don’t need anything too upbeat or loud, but something moderate tempo and playing softly in the background as to not interrupt conversation goes miles towards making for an inviting brunch party.
3. Don’t Fancy Things Up – This is brunch. Unless you’re having your boyfriend or girlfriends’ parents over or something, there is no need to break out the fine china, set out fresh flowers everywhere, or deep clean the carpets. You probably have known your guests for a while and half of them are still going to be tired or hungover anyway and won’t notice your fresh, just-imported Dutch Painted-Lady Tulips anyways (sorry). Tidy up obvious garbage, empty the trash can, and light a candle or something if you’re feeling especially fancy. That’s it.
The Wrap Up
The key to a good brunch is to keep things simple. Brunch is as much a social event as it is a meal, so don’t make things so fussy that you end up locked away in the kitchen the entire time. Find foods that you can easily make big batches of (but are still be tasty) and have your guests help out wherever they can. It’s been proven that people appreciate and value things more when they personally have contributed to and worked on them. This applies to things like furniture and crafts, so it should hold true for brunch too. So the next time you want to host an event, consider the most American of meals – Brunch.