A year has past since Team Vicious and Delicious suffered a surprising upset and to say the brunch stakes were raised would be an understatement. With a new judging scheme and hosting at our house, the stage was set for a second helping… of redemption. This year we invited friends and neighbors to be impartial judges (and to eat all of the extra food). And while we were at it, we opted to rebrand to Team I’m So Tired, because who’s sleeping these days anyway?
It took weeks of recipe browsing to settle on our two entries to flex our brunch muscles. The anchor of what we had to offer was a short rib hash with poached eggs. To complement (and being incapable of choosing just one) we made a pastry basket of three different baked goods.
Part of the appeal of the chosen recipes is that they’re baby-friendly, and that doesn’t mean what you think it means. With Wes taking up approximately all of our time, a key feature of any good recipe is to allow for make-ahead prep and easy assembly that doesn’t ever take up too much time at once. Anyhow, here’s how we brunched.
Short Rib Hash
First up, short rib hash. The day before brunch involved lots of chopping and poaching. I poached a dozen eggs (masterfully, I might add) and stored them in cold water in the fridge for quick service. As for the hash itself, the ribs are seared then cooked in the slow cooker overnight and shredded in the morning. Then it’s a simple matter of frying bacon and then cooking the onions, peppers, and potatoes in the bacon fat.
Pecan Sticky Bun | Coffee Cake Muffins | Banana Bread
The pièce de résistance in the basket of pastries is of course The Ultimate Pecan Sticky Buns. From the newly-released The Food Lab cookbook, these from-scratch sticky buns are the real deal. They aren’t too hard, but don’t expect to pop open a can of dough and bake. They definitely take some TLC.
The dough couldn’t be easier: just combine all the ingredients and knead for a few minutes until they become… dough. While the dough is proofing you make the pecan caramel to line the bottom of the baking dish.
After rolling up the dough, slice into 12 rolls and nestle them together on top of the pecan caramel.
And then we wait. Let them proof again in the fridge overnight and bake them up hot and fresh in the morning. Give ’em a few minutes to cool in the pan and then… flip.
Along with the sticky buns, I adapted a super secret coffee cake recipe (sorry, sworn to secrecy) into muffins (Ev’s brilliant idea). The trick to making them extra delicious is to layer batter and topping so you get that coffee cake crumble all the way through. I purposely overfilled the muffin pan to get an awesome muffin top.
To go with the basket of baked goods I made some coffee butter. Because why not. It’s a matter of breaking out the sous vide machine and bagging coffee beans with a few sticks of butter and steeping for a few hours. The result is incredible.
I didn’t document the whole process for the crazy banana bread using pressure cooked bananas and a light meringue-based batter.
Last year’s winners brought it hard, going all-out upscale, fancypants, let-me-valet-your-Rolls-Royce-style with their entries. First up was a spin on Shrimp and Grits, swapping the shrimp with lobster and making sure the grits were nice and cheesy.
The second dish was a traditional Steak and Eggs, only completely not traditional. Filet mignon gets chicken-fried and the eggs are baked in a hot oven. All on top of creamy mashed potatoes and several sauces. Yes, chicken-fried filet mignon.
Team Hen and Oats
The winners this year killed it with simplicity. They took home the golden peppermill on the back of their deviled eggs benedict. To “benedict” them, a homemade hollandaise was spooned on top, with thick-cut bacon and English muffin croutons to add big flavor and crunch. It was pretty clear the genius croutons is what took them over the top and into the winner’s circle.
The second dish was a parfait of whipped goat cheese mousse with separate red and golden beet compotes and homemade granola. It was pretty and light and classy, but definitely played second fiddle to that deviled egg.
In summary, Team Hen and Oats took home the trophy. We had an official passing-of-the-mill ceremony in which the champions, in a moment of honesty and vulnerability, let their true joy shine through in a beautiful moment. Tears were shed.
We’ll get you next time!
Behind the Scenes
This is how brunch morning started. Just whipping eggs and frying bacon, no big deal.