Best practices: awesome brunch edition
October 31, 2013 9:14 AM   Subscribe

I am hosting a brunch at my house for...a bunch? probably at least 30? people on Sunday. What are your favorite reliable recipes and tips for this situation? Assume above-average baking/cooking abilities and a desire to do as much 1-2 days ahead as possible.

We will have a waffle station (ideas for great toppings beyond fruit?), mimosas/bloody marys, piles of fruit and...what else should we do? We did this last year and I need fresh ideas so I don't repeat myself wholesale.
posted by charmedimsure to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
We love to host brunch for large numbers of people, and we also prefer to do as much ahead of time as possible. Our handbook for this is Smitten Kitchen's amazing post: How to host brunch (and still sleep in). A few other particulars:

-- we love to do a mimosa/bellini bar. Cheap sparkling wine and 3 interesting kinds of fruit juice make it way more interesting than just mimosas.

-- a savory breakfast strata is easy to make ahead of time in large quantities, and is a huge hit.

-- fruit salad with a ton of chopped or muddled mint added to it is way yummier than regular fruit salad.

-- you can cook bacon in the oven in large quantities. This was *way* more popular than I expected, even though it was bacon so I guess I should have expected it.
posted by willbaude at 9:21 AM on October 31, 2013 [9 favorites]

For large crowds, I have found it's better to do a few things very well and in large quantities rather than lots of things where only a few people get a bite.

I highly recommend serving chicken tenders with the waffles.

Canadian bacon strata
Brown sugar and red chili bacon
Sausage cheese muffins
posted by hmo at 9:30 AM on October 31, 2013

Bacon-wrapped dates. Just an extension to the bacon-in-the-oven proposal above; I do this for every brunch we host, and if it for some arcane reason turns out not to be popular, they're actually very good cold as well.
posted by labberdasher at 9:31 AM on October 31, 2013

A couple of random suggestions:

- Roasted potatoes have always been a hit at brunch, in my experience--you can make them in bulk, they're filling, and delicious when done right. Here is a recipe I came across recently that I haven't tried but it sounds really good--can't do ahead of time but since it looks like they will be in the oven for an hour, it leaves you plenty of time to do the other stuff.

- I recently tried this New Belgium beer that has espresso in it (or at least espresso flavoring--not sure about caffeine) and I loved it. Could be a nice alternative to mimosas and Bloody Mary's for people who prefer beer but still want to get their breakfast booze on...
posted by lovableiago at 9:33 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cheese and charcuterie platter or this one, go for quality ingredients vs quantity.

Croissants or other pastries (from a good bakery)
posted by Snazzy67 at 9:37 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Crème anglaise is the most delicious fruit topping invented — it is basically liquid French vanilla ice cream. (video)

If you overcook it your first time making it, you can get away with putting it in the blender to break up the bits. Make them not more than the night before and cool as quickly as possible after making.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 9:37 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Quiche! Crust on or Crust off. (Crustless can be nice for anyone that is lower carb)
posted by PlutoniumX at 9:38 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

You can sometimes find uncooked, frozen croissants for not too expensive from a bakery or grocery store. Let them rise the night before and then put a piece of chocolate or cheese inside them before baking them yourself.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 9:38 AM on October 31, 2013

I have a similar thing happening this weekend and am planning to do a brie baked in puff pastry, and popovers, which are as easy as muffins but bring a slightly novel baked good element. The brie can get prepared in advance and baked on the day of, but the popovers are *much* better right out of the oven. Doesn't require as much attention as waffles though.
posted by tchemgrrl at 9:52 AM on October 31, 2013

If you want to keep things interesting, you could brainstorm international breakfasts. Danish Æbleskiver are probably too much work, but Egyptian ful medames is an easy side. More ideas…
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 9:54 AM on October 31, 2013

nthing bacon in the oven and quiches (you can make ahead and serve at room temperature, or make very early and let them cool off as you get dressed and cook other things). As a person who likes savory food in the morning, alternatives to waffles and fruit that are more salty/savory are much appreciated at these things.

Bacon-wrapped dates, yum! with some goat cheese in the middle.
posted by amaire at 9:58 AM on October 31, 2013

English scones (not the overly sweet American cookie like ones) and fresh clotted cream. I think home made jam is one of the most delicious things ever too, but I don't know how long jam takes to make.

posted by Blitz at 10:16 AM on October 31, 2013

Hash! Hash x 1000. You can slow cook the meat a few days before (or prepare the night before and stick it in the oven on low) I like to do this with braised short ribs, duck confit, slow cooked fatty pork, etc. You make some crispy herb garlic potatoes, maybe some caramelized onions, sweet potatoes, peppers, etc.. mix with meat, top with cheese and a poached egg or two.

This is the best brunch.
posted by sarahnicolesays at 10:59 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Might be redundant with the waffle station, but a selection of cheeses and meats and jams and fruits and nutella and some whipped cream, and you have a dress-your-own-crepe station. Obviously this would require making crepes, but they're easy. This recipe is easy and scales well...I use carbonated water instead of regular water.
posted by phunniemee at 11:09 AM on October 31, 2013

Mmmmm, brunch. So easy, so good! mimosa punch bowl, get a waffle iron and let the guests do their own if you wish with toppings like maple syrup, whipped cream, berries at hand....Togetherness at a waffle iron can be a good icebreaker for guests who may not know each other. Spiral sliced ham on a board, bacon in a warmer, bakery goodies of a breakfast nature. Bowl of fresh cut-up fruit. Yeah, an easy egg and cheese strata or two that you assemble the night before, refrigerate, then bake the morning of. I've also served lox and cold peeled shrimp. Those French Toast sticks are not bad either, found in the freezer section - heat on a cookie sheet and serve. Mini-quiches, also from the freezer section, taste as good as they look. Two hours and you can have this all rocked out on your buffet. They will be singing about you over the campfire for years to come!
posted by Lornalulu at 4:03 PM on October 31, 2013

This breakfast quiche recipe is idiot proof and delicious:

Also, it is easy to do as a Vegetarian recipe.
posted by bananafish at 4:29 PM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

I literally just picked up the latest Fine Cooking magazine from my mailbox and it has a whole section on this. Go and buy a copy, it sounds perfect for this occasion.
posted by bquarters at 5:01 PM on October 31, 2013

strata, which is quiche-like, but has a bread base instead of pastry. Cubed bread to coiver the bottom of a baking dish, then something yummy, like mushrooms and sausage, or salmon and spinach, then egg & milk mixture, top with cheese, bake. Satisfying, filling, easy.

Waffles absorb so much butter - consider whipped butter. Real maple syrup, and maybe some blueberry syrup, or sweetened blueberries in their own juice.
posted by theora55 at 7:43 PM on October 31, 2013

I do exactly what willbaude mentions above for brunches and it works great. For the cheap sparkling wine I recommend Prosecco over Champagne.
posted by Aizkolari at 6:45 AM on November 1, 2013

Tourte Milanese! So impressive. Also delicious. And you can (even perhaps should) assemble and bake it beforehand. Similar kind of feel to a strata or breakfast bake but much fancier.
posted by mskyle at 8:06 AM on November 1, 2013

You may not want to do it this time, since you have the waffle station, but maybe next year... My sister & I made brunch for a bunch of people one Mother's Day, and we had "make your own eggs Benedict." We poached eggs and toasted English muffins, and had ham, smoked salmon, artichoke hearts and asparagus (cooked ahead of time and at room temperature) which people could select from. I can't remember how we kept the poached eggs warm, but we put the Hollandaise sauce into a thermal coffee pitcher, and it stayed warm and did not separate or break at all.
posted by zorseshoes at 5:08 PM on November 2, 2013

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