Monday, July 29, 2013

maple brown sugar glazed bacon and other advice for hosting brunch

I'm a veteran brunch host. I've hosted small ladies-only brunches, large potluck brunches, patio brunches, poolside brunches, dessert-only brunches, and farewell brunches. And now I'm sharing some of my brunch hosting advice with you! Here are my top tips for guaranteeing a happy, successful, anxiety-free brunch. (Hint: bacon is involved.)
we'll get to this in a second.
Prepare as many things in advance as possible. You want to be able to relax and impress everyone at the same time (I swear it's possible!), so we need to minimize the amount of work you're doing in the morning. You don't necessarily have to prepare the whole dish ahead of time - if you're making blackberry orange zest ricotta waffles, for example, you can make the batter the day before, store it in the fridge overnight, and make the waffles in the morning.

Write everything down. I like to create a schedule to plan ahead and help me remember all of the things I have to do, so I'm not constantly thinking about when I need to knead my bread dough or take my bagels out of the oven or how I'm going to sauté spinach and peaches at the same time when I only have one pan or whatever.

Only use recipes you've made before. And on the morning of your brunch, only use simple recipes you've made before. Even better, only use simple recipes that you've made before that you enjoy making. I adore rice, but I freaking hate cooking it because it decides to burn every time I walk away for two seconds.

Curate a cooking playlist to help you relax and keep moving. I'm at my most productive and relaxed when listening to slow or moderately paced female vocalists. Jessie Ware and Lykke Li and Lorde are my go-to artists for mornings in the kitchen. But who knows, maybe you cook better when you're listening to DMX aggressively ponder where his dogs are. Or something.

Clean before you start cooking, then clean up as you go. Ugh, this advice came from my parents, but they're totally right. Clean the kitchen (nay, your apartment!) before you start cooking, and then continue to clean up after yourself while you're cooking. Put your flour away when you're done with it. Wash your dishes while you're waiting for your bacon to cook. You'll thank me when your guests start showing up early and you're still working on those pancakes and your sink is overflowing with dishes and there's flour all over your counter because seriously how does it always get everywhere and your dog might excitement pee at any second.

Ask a close, reliable friend to come help out an hour beforehand. Have her do things like vacuum the excessive amount of dog hair off the couch and chop onions and pick up early arrivals from the lobby. Bribe her with wine if necessary.

note wine glass on coffee table
For the love of god, make sure your laundry isn't drying in the bathroom. You know what's embarrassing? Luring a cute guy to your apartment with brunch, only to have him bashfully stumble out of your bathroom, mumbling "I think I saw something I shouldn't have." Put your lacy things away before boys come over.

And lastly, serve bacon. Like this maple brown sugar bacon, for example:

vegetarians have it so hard.

makes 1-6 servings (cough...)

1 pound of bacon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup

As much as I love frying up some bacon on the stove, the oven is the way to go when you're hosting a larger group of people. Here's how to do it:

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Place an oven-safe wire rack over a baking pan. Make sure this baking pan has walls. Do not even think about using a cookie sheet. There is nothing worse than accidentally spilling 400° bacon grease all over your legs because you tipped the cooked sheet slightly when you were taking it out of the oven.

Place your bacon strips on top of the wire rack, like in the picture below. I know lots of fancy food publications will tell you to leave 1" space between the strips to ensure even cooking, but I slightly layer them all the time, and it works like a charm. They'll shrink anyway, you know?

Sprinkle the brown sugar and maple syrup over the strips - it doesn't have to be too even. Place in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, depending on how you like your bacon cooked. Turn the pan once, about halfway through cooking. Cool bacon on a paper towel to help sop up some of the excess grease. Try not to eat it all by yourself.

uncooked bacon with brown sugar and maple syrup sprinkled on top
i wish you could smell how amazing this smells.
P.S. Are you into this? Want to follow each other on twitter? Get at me @deptoftaste.


  1. Addition: Have tissues near by when said close, reliable friend chops onions, as they make her cry.

    1. Ha! Be glad I didn't include a picture of that :)