I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it explicitly, but we have some pretty outstanding neighbors. Monthly happy hour, meet-ups at the neighborhood bar, impromptu wine/beer/whiskey on the patio/front porch/street… and now we can add “friendly knock down drag out no holds barred potluck brunch” to the mix. We were invited over to our neighbor’s house along with another couple to flex our brunching muscles.
Some of the key details included coming up with a team name (Team Vicious and Delicious), voting on: taste, creativity, presentation, and “bonus points”, and adhering to the theme: Cracker Barrel Chic. Yep. With about 10 days to prep, there was a lot of menu planning and email trash talk going on. But ultimately it came down to the food, so here’s a recap of how things went down.
Note: Due to the obscene number of photos I took documenting our epic brunch, I’ve tried to reduce the length of this page by creating gifs, slideshows, and self control.
Though our original plan was to keep it simple and make some of Jeff‘s epic biscuits and a variety of jams, that idea was squashed when someone else said they were making biscuits. Things escalated quickly and we went from “biscuits and jam” to “waffles two ways” that included six components. And we made some iced coffee for everyone for good measure.
First and certainly foremost, I decided now was the time to try Fried and True‘s chocolate covered candied bacon. The recipe is in Trailer Food Diaries Volume 3 and surprisingly simple to make. Rather than drone on for 6000 words about it, here’s a step-by-step gif!
Which, when topped with sea salt, ended up like this:
To avoid any game time disasters, I tested the recipe earlier in the week with resounding success. But we couldn’t just put that bacon on a plate… well I suppose we could have… so I tested out an overnight yeast waffle recipe, but it didn’t really hit the mark. Instead I grabbed this classic Belgian Waffle recipe to act as the base for half of our waffle duo.
And what’s a big, sweet waffle without syrup? So obviously we made
Maple Bacon Coffee Whiskey Syrup. You read that correctly. The process: add maple syrup, cooked bacon, coffee grounds, and whiskey to a sauce pan, simmer for a few minutes, and go into a diabetic, drunken, caffeinated meat coma.
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Let’s just say this was poured over just about everything. (Recipe in the comments)
Now, on the other side of the waffle duo we went a little less traditional. The waffle itself was really a “waffle” in shape alone. What we actually made was a hashbrown waffle, which was nothing more than shredded potatoes and an egg to hold it together.
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On top of the waffle we placed some thick peppered bacon and a 63° Sous Vide egg. I let the eggs cook at 63 degrees Celsius for about 90 minutes to get an oozy, luxurious yolk to slowly pour down onto the “waffle”.
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So now we can finally get to the brunch itself! Competing against Team Vicious and Delicious we had Team Ambitious and Capricious and the home team, Team Tasty Palooza.
While it’s fresh in your mind, here’s what Team Vicious and Delicious brought to the party. On one side, a hashbrown waffle topped with thick-cut peppered bacon and a 63° egg, and on the other is a Belgian waffle topped with chocolate candied bacon and that syrup.
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As for Team Ambitious and Capricious, they whipped up a homemade biscuit sandwich filled with deep fried cheese curds (straight from Wisconsin #gopackgo), a bacon-studded fried mashed potato patty, tomato-jalapeño jam, and topped with a fried quail egg. Seriously. SERIOUSLY. Stiff competition!
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And the home team, Team Tasty Palooza, actually put together two dishes to hedge their bets, but it was their “Ben’s Benedict” that got my vote for best dish. A poached egg on top of an English muffin with homemade basil pesto, an oven-roasted tomato, habanero Gouda, and roasted red pepper-saffron Hollandaise. Come. On. And then they also made a pancake filled with sausage and topped with salted caramel sauce. But that Benedict. Ugh.
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And with competition this fierce, of course there was a trophy on the line: The Golden Pepper Mill! The final winner was Team Tasty Palooza!
We had an incredible time planning, prepping, trash talking, and eating. There’s talk of a rematch brewing already and Team Vicious and Delicious will be there. And that trophy will be ours. Oh yes, it will be ours.