5 Steps to Serving a Better Brunch
Brunch, the lovechild of breakfast and lunch, is arguably one of our most popular food traditions. While food historians disagree on the origin of this late-morning meal, a definitive link can be traced back to 1895, when a British author, Guy Beringer, proposed that a lighter, later meal should replace the heavy meals that typically followed Sunday church. He added that brunch is also a way to celebrate the final weekend breakfast with cheer, socializing, and relaxation.
After Hollywood stars started making this late-morning meal popular in the 1930’s, the fad of brunch swept across the United States, forever changing the weekend dining scene. From eggs benedict and lox to Bloody Marys and mimosas, brunch provides attendees with flavorful dishes that satisfy their taste buds.
For many, navigating the fine line between breakfast, lunch, and innovative combinations of the two can be difficult. With these tips, however, you can host the best brunch with the most appropriate, delicious spread imaginable.
1. Remember the Food Pyramid
As Beringer stated in his nineteenth century article published in Hunter’s Weekly, brunch should be a light, fresh meal, without the heavy foods that are typically served for breakfast. With that said, however, you should still stick to the foundations of the food pyramid. These five food groups should make an appearance in your menu:
- Dairy: think cheeses and yogurts
- Meats and proteins: include things such as sausage, steak, eggs, nuts, smoked salmon, ham, etc.
- Fruits: the fresher, the better
- Vegetables: though potatoes are technically a starch, they can be utilized in the form of hash browns, home fries, potato pancakes, and breakfast casseroles. Be sure to also include fresh veggies like onions, peppers, and tomatoes
- Grains: use traditional grains like toast and muffins, or choose something a little different like grits, oatmeal, cream of wheat, or scones
2. Innovative Side Dishes
Using various ingredients from the food pyramid, you can create several different, innovative side dishes that will ultimately complement your gourmet options.
If you’re looking to wow your diners with a succulent main dish, go for simplicity on complementary dishes. Depending on what’s in season, consider adding fresh ingredients like tomatoes, avocado, asparagus, scallions, and mushrooms. Don’t overcomplicate your side dish; stick to two or three ingredients, tops, and make it easily sharable so your guests can pass their favorites around.
3. The Belle of Brunch
Every brunch needs a gourmet dish. As exemplified by Solbar, Napa Valley’s premier dining location, brunch should include fresh, seasonal ingredients incorporated in flavorful and satisfying dishes. There’s more leeway to serve up something hearty and filling for the main brunch dish, but it should complement your side dishes in a surprising way.
For example, eggs are a go-to ingredient that is a requirement for any brunch menu, but they can be featured in endless ways. Take a classic, such as eggs benedict and add a twist, like in an Eggs Benedict Skillet Casserole that incorporates hearty potatoes, sausage, and garden fresh vegetables topped off with a perfectly poached egg.
Or you can take a dish that would normally be found on a lunch or dinner menu, such as a mushroom-Fontina pizza, and simply add a fried egg on top. Voilà, you’ve combined traditional breakfast fare with your lunch offerings to create a uniquely brunch dish.
4. Bold Beverages
A meal doesn’t have any business being called brunch without mimosas. And yet, since most people will be expecting mimosas, as well as other brunch stalwarts like Bloody Marys, it’s important to find a unique twist on these classic cocktails.
For example, infusing exotic flavors like lavender and rose is a great way to add interest to your mimosas. And you can even integrate some locally grown tomatoes into your Bloody Marys to make them burst with flavor.
5. Foster Conversation
For all the tips above, make sure every aspect of your brunch is designed to get people engaged in conversation. Every step of the dining process should feel out of the ordinary, and every item on the menu should serve as a conversation piece. If the choice comes down to either safe and conservative or bold and interesting, always choose the latter.
By following these tips, you can put together a memorable, delicious brunch that will leave guests satisfied and taste buds gratified.