As a friend of mine recently remarked -- "Of course you're going to brunch. You're a New Yorker". My response to that? What's wrong with brunch? I know that Village Voice gossip columnist extraordinaire Michael Musto is famous for his hatred of this "trendy construct that people decided to buy into", but so what? In my opinion, yes it's entirely unnecessary as a meal, and yes it's not a great way to say cut calories and make the most of your time, but it's like Saturday morning cartoons for adults. It's a time to relax with friends over a nice leisurely meal of foods that you would ordinarily never make in your home on a Monday morning at 8:15 when you're rushing to apply a coat of mascara, find your left shoe, all the while praying that the uptown 6 train isn't the crowded mess you know it will be. If someone has built eggs benedict and a bloody into their morning routine, my hats off to them. Seriously.
Now here's the thing.
The thing is that I enjoy the whole going to brunch experience-- be it bloody mary made bad life choices the night before brunch on the lower east side at 2pm, or a lovely ladies let's pretend we're functioning adults who never make bad life choices tea brunch on a chilly morning. But there are still pitfalls a plenty.
Dry eggs - gross and rubbery
Burned bacon - pretty much blasphemy
Cold pancakes - why?
I have encountered all of these things on a Sunday afternoon outing with friends, and usually I let it slide because I'm enjoying the company, the weather, the leisurely feeling of no responsibility along with the waterfall of unlimited mimosas. But usually somewhere between mimosa number two and five I get fussy thinking about how I could make all of these things so easily and so much better in my tiny little POS kitchen.
Now I'm not saying that everyone should go home and try to knock out a Hollandaise from scratch, because I've done that, and while satisfying and delicious, the task is tedious and better left to the professionals while I munch on a lovely celery garnish. But things like a great pan of creamy scrambled eggs, or a huge rasher of maple glazed bacon are within my culinary grasp at home, and can be elevated to pretty amazing levels with relative ease.
Let's focus on the bacon for a second, because does anything else even really matter?
Bacon is a beautiful thing. Almost everyone agrees, and those who don't are either vegetarian or delusional. But bacon is not a simple topic. People have strong opinions on bacon. Crispy, limp, chewy, thick cut, peppered? I'd sooner strike up a conversation about health care reform than question how someone takes their bacon, but I do have a version that proves to be very satisfying to a large number of carnivores and is easy and kinda fancy.
Hand Me A Bloody, A Bad Life Choice, and A Piece Of That Maple Glazed Bacon Bacon
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees (do it now before you get all sticky...yeah. now. that's why it's the first direction)
1 lb package of thick cut bacon
2/3 cp of grade B maple syrup (no Butterworth's here please)
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili flake
Cook the bacon however you'd like. I prefer to do it in the oven on a baking sheet with a flat roasting rack on top. It takes longer than other methods but it's not as messy and it makes the syrup part (ie: the good part) easier.
While the bacon is cooking combine the other ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and turn the heat to low. When the bacon is just shy of done (whatever you think done is...I'm not judging) brush a coating of the syrup mixture evenly over the slices. Put the newly lacquered pieces of shining porky glory back in the oven for 2-3 minutes. Don't walk away from the bacon or it could burn and you would cry because you ruined brunch. Cool the bacon until you can't take it anymore (about 2 minutes) and consume.
*If you made the bacon in the microwave don't bother with the oven at the end. You're just making another dirty dish. In this case put the bacon on whatever serving device you have...a platter, a trashcan lid, your tongue, and drizzle the slices with the syrup mixture. It won't be quite as a beautiful as the original but it also won't matter, because it's bacon covered in warm maple syrup. Yeah.
Honestly, load me up with about three or twenty pieces of that stuff and a nice libation and I'm set, but I know there is more to life and to brunch.
to be continued...