5 brunch mistakes to avoid
Brunch is one of life's simple pleasures. I love sitting with a few friends, enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee and savoring an omelet in the middle of the morning. The meal's versatile menu—sweet or savory—special drinks and sleepyhead-friendly timing make it perhaps the perfect meal. As The Simpsons once put it: "You'll love it! It's not quite breakfast, it's not quite lunch, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end." So true!
But even something as wonderful as brunch is capable of being ruined. And since many people are gearing up to make delicious Mother's Day brunches, I thought I'd run down some of the most common mistakes people make to protect you from a midmorning brunch disaster.
Here are 5 of the most common brunch mistakes and how to avoid them:
1. You Overcook The Eggs—Even the most casual cooks can fry eggs decently—after all, it's usually just a matter of breaking a few into a skillet and then tending to them. But things get dicey when you're cooking brunch for a big crowd. Suddenly this simple task seems incredibly complicated—how do you deal with a large skillet overflowing with beaten eggs? How do you make sure the whole mess gets cooked through but not burned? And once you've got them cooked, how do you keep them warm without turning them into an inedible rubbery mess?
The easy fix? Make a brunch casserole! Rather than fighting your eggs, make them work for you—in a delicious casserole, strata or frittata. If your recipe is a good one, you'll take the guesswork out of cooking eggs perfectly and deliver something your guests will love. Plus, you'll have all the prep done ahead of time, so you'll actually be able to hang out with your guests!
2. You Burn the Bacon—Some people love crispy bacon and some prefer it chewy, but pretty much no one wants bacon burnt to a crisp. When you're running around attending to a million things at once, it's easy to char bacon without meaning to. A hot skillet and a distracted cook can be a recipe for the smoke alarm.
An easy way to avoid burning bacon is to cook it in the microwave. It's easy: Cover a microwave-safe dish with a couple of paper towels. Add bacon in a single layer. Cover the bacon with a couple more paper towels and cook in 2-minute increments until crispy. This method is actually healthier than pan-frying, since it allows much of the fat that drains from the bacon as it cooks to be absorbed. There's an added bonus to this method, too—less cleanup!
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3. You Forget to Incorporate Healthy Foods—Pancakes! Bacon! Hollandaise sauce! With fun foods like these, it's easy to forget about simple things like, you know, fruit and vegetables. Your guests will thank you, however, if you remember to set out some healthy options.
Here's my simple rule of thumb: having protein and fiber together helps you feel full for longer, so make sure you have both elements at your brunch. The protein part should no problem (see the last two tips). As for fiber, think fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Your guests will appreciate you all day if you remember to include a fruit salad, a green salad and some whole-grain muffins.
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4. You Miscalculate How Much Food You Need—This is probably the most stressful thing about cooking for a crowd. After all, no one wants to run out of food at a big get-together, but no one wants to blow a ton of time and money preparing way too much food either. And while most seasoned cooks are somewhat familiar with figuring out how much to cook for dinner (when chances are that most guests will be eating your main course and sides), it's a lot harder to gauge what people will eat at brunch.
Here are some basic guidelines. Generally speaking, 3 ounces cooked (4 ounces raw) is a healthy portion per person for proteins, so try to shoot for that. For eggs, that means about 2 medium eggs per person, so make sure you make enough of whatever casserole or frittata you've decided on for each person to have that. Try to stack the menu with make-ahead foods (think: muffins, quiches, salads, etc.) that'll be good for a few days after your meal. That way, even if you have leftovers they won't go to waste!
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5. You Run Out of Champagne! I love having a special cocktail when I'm enjoying brunch—a peppery Bloody Mary or citrusy mimosa just makes the whole morning seem more special. That's why I hate it when people (myself included!) run out of drinks. I think that often people plan the rest of their brunch menu and then just pick up a bottle of Champagne the day before and hope they have enough.
If you're going to serve a mixed drink at your brunch, you may as well plan for it. By following a recipe (and doubling or tripling if need be, depending on the number of people you'll be serving), you'll be better able to make sure that your guests have enough to drink. Check out some great, summery cocktail recipes here.