Cooking for Others: Hangover Brunch
PARTY SIZE: 13 Santas, 3 Mrs. Clauses, 2 Christmas Trees, 1 Slutty Elf, and yes, Scrooge
TYPE: Casual Hangover Brunch Buffet
MENU: Breakfast Burritos, Big Kid Hot Chocolate
When I was little (we’re talking 7, 8, 9), I showed an early flair for service-sector food preparation. Every summer, I would open Phoebe’s Restaurant—a one-day-only affair where I exhibited shameless only-child, attention-seeking behavior and indulged in a burgeoning multiple-personality disorder, playing both the surly waitress, Shirley, and a greasy-spoon short-order cook, Bob, and dishing out breakfast to my parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. The placemats were finely crafted from the most refined fax-machine paper, the menus written in bold crayon, and the food—evidence that line cooks on egg duty have the most difficult job in the kitchen—was always a disaster.
It took a few years, but eventually I learned from my mistakes and began taking a more totalitarian approach by offering only one item on the menu: Phoebe’s Famous Breakfast Burritos. There was nothing particularly remarkable about these burritos, nor anything particularly Mexican come to think of it—just scrambled eggs (good ones at that) in a warm flour tortilla. More importantly, it was easy. And when you are functioning as the surly waitress, greasy short-order chef, and dealing with a crowd of family members who tend to lose their tempers when blood sugar levels drop, you learn to simplify.
Which brings us to the subject of hangover brunch, and the grown-up incarnation of this signature dish: the breakfast burrito buffet. This recipe is so foolproof and easy that I’ve found myself on more than a few occasions being coerced out of bed before 10am on a Saturday to whip up an eggalicious feast for 20 of my closest friends.
Though the holiday season has long since elapsed, this particular brunch took place before “Santacon,” an event when 10,000 quarter-life fools dressed in santa suits descend on Manhattan for a bar crawl, and a particularly joyous example of the hangover cure-all meal. With the help of my friend Adam’s Big Kid Hot Chocolate, we all got in the early-morning Christmas spirit to grab a drink, eat some grub, and let the child in us rage all over again.
After all, what better time to regress than the holidays?
From my small kitchen, serving early-bird specials since 1992, to yours,
Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Breakfast Burrito Buffet
Makes 20 servings (more if you increase the eggs)
3 dozen large eggs, beaten
2 15oz cans corn, rinsed and drained
4 tomatoes, finely diced
2 15oz cans black beans
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 – 3 8oz packages shredded Monterey jack cheese, or Mexican blend
30 medium flour tortillas (Santas, and other male guests, will usually eat two)For the buffet:
1 – 2 large jars of salsa, medium
Pre-made or fresh guacamole (obviously, if you have time, make fresh—this is a gem in my repertoire, to be shared at a later date)
Pico de Gallo (optional)
Hot sauce (optional)
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
Wrap the tortillas in tin foil, one package at a time, to create three or four foil bundles. Place in the oven to heat while the meal is being prepared.
In a large bowl, crack and scramble the first dozen and a half eggs. Add about a ½ tablespoon of salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. In another bowl, mix together 1 ½ can of corn and the diced tomatoes. Set aside.
On a back burner, empty the black beans into a medium saucepan. Season with the chili powder, and let simmer with the lid on over low heat while you prepare the eggs.
Drizzle the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat—you will need a bit more if you are using cast iron or other metal pan. Using a rubber spatula, continue to scrape the bottom of the pan, displacing cooked pieces of egg as they form. Since you are dealing with a lot of eggs, the scrambling process may take up to fifteen minutes. Once all the eggs are almost cooked, but still too runny to serve, bring the burner back to low and add in half of the tomato/corn mixture. This will add some moisture back to the eggs. Cook for 2 -3 more minutes until the eggs are no longer runny. Off the heat, add ¾ of the bag of cheese. Gently stir or flip to combine.
Once the first batch is served, repeat the process with the remaining eggs, tomato, and corn for late comers and unusually robust Santas.
For the buffet, set out the condiments, remaining cheese, remaining corn, black beans and warm tortillas on a long table or counter. Guests will assemble the bulk of the burrito and then migrate to the stove to top with eggs.
Adam’s Big Kid Hot Chocolate
Makes 20 servings
As a disclaimer, I should mention that, like many of the better things in life, the Big Kid Hot Chocolate recipe is pretty simple (despite Phoebe’s latent desire to somehow make it into bruschetta or a crostini). But this recipe also involves a lot of gut feeling and improvisation, so if you’re fully sober while you’re making this concoction, you’re missing out on half of the fun.
The biggest question before we start is to determine your desired effect. i.e. how drunk you want people to get. Since it’s her blog, I’d like to put it on a scale of “Phoebe snorting a bit more than usual when she laughs” to “Phoebe bumping into walls and not talking.” I generally aim for something in between, but add less or more vodka as you see fit; either you’re hoping for a quiet night with friends, or a room full of beer tears and morning-after regrets.
1 Full-Sized Nesquik hot chocolate mix carton (or another brand…basically just a poopload of hot chocolate)
1 Handle of Vodka (you’re not going to use the whole thing, but I only measure vodka in handles and you can probably figure out something to do with what’s left over)
1 bottle of Bailey’s
Fill the biggest pot you’ve got 2/3’s of the way with water and put it on medium heat. Dump in ¾’s of the hot chocolate mix and stir to incorporate. Bring to a boil and then return to low heat (don’t add in the alcohol until it’s on low heat or it’ll burn off). When the hot chocolate is cool enough to drink, pour in the full bottle of Bailey’s and some of the vodka (about ½ a handle should do the trick). Give it a taste. If it’s a bit watery/vodka-y, pour in the rest of the hot chocolate mix. Stir and add any additional vodka you see fit. Then let the good times roll.