A weekend brunch with friends. Brunch is the best thing for a weekend since you get to sleep in more than normal and put more effort into the meal than you would for a regular week day.
For today’s theme was the beginning of a new roommate and what a better way to celebrate that than with a great brunch. I decided to do the cooking and try out some ideas I saw on a recent “Diners, Drive Ins and Dives” which had a local place makes its name for an amazing breakfast of French Toast with Carmel Pecans and Bananas. I was in awe when I saw that episode and had to try it myself. Since I am planning and making this brunch for myself and four other people I had to think what would be good and some what balanced but not overkill when it comes to the sweet factor.
This is what I came up with. The caramel pecan French toast as the main dish and with a side of BBQ pork belly and to balance out the bread and meat will be a fresh fruit compote with a honey crostini cut into sticks and the crust in another bowl.
Lets see how I made this.
Pork Belly. Enough said here. I am a huge fan of bacon and pork so I decided to step it up a little this meal and go with pork belly. I didn’t really have a recipe I went off of but used techniques I have used in the past. This is my take on slow cooked BBQ Pork Belly.
First you will need.
2 lbs of Pork Belly
1 bundle of green onions
1 bottle of BBQ sauce (your preference) I used Korean Garlic BBQ
I cut up the meat into 2in by 1in sections with the skin down so I don’t squish the meat as I cut. In a pan rated for the oven I add the sauce and green onions along with the pieces and mix with my hands to coat the meat.
In a secondary hot pan with some olive oil I seared the pieces with the skin down to crisp them up for about 45 seconds, not to cook but to sear the skin and add that BBQ char coloring. Remove the pieces and put back into the original pan with the sauce and green onions. The orientation is important and I had the skin facing upright. The reason behind this is help it crisp more and the softer meat will be soaking up the sauce. Cover and seal with aluminum foil. Oven temp was 350F for 1.5 hours.
After I have the pork belly in the oven cooking I can next get the fruit prepped and ready and save the French toast for last. The fruit I used was 3 large nectarines, 2 cups of strawberries and 1 cup of blue berries. I cut the fruit up in the desired bit sized pieces. Remember the softer fruits will render down so don’t cut them too small. In a large pot I throw the fruit in and a small pad of button and a teaspoon of salt with 3 squirts of lime concentrate to help boost the flavors and keep the colors. Gently mix the fruit to warm up. I brought it to a boil and turned the heat off. The fruit will continue to render and get ‘wet’ since the heat is still in the pot and fruit. I let it rest once and drained then let it chill in the fringe to stop the cooking. No sugars added and this makes for a tasty treat with any meal and it is pretty healthy for you as well. The crostini idea was to have the sweet and soft fruit mixed with the crunch of the bread but no garlic or butter as it is the norm for a dinner style. I used a generic white bread but not wonder bread for this. Toasted and then cut into the sticks and the crusts saved. How I served this was 3 toasted sticks laying on the plate and 2 scoops of the fruit compote on top. This will soak up the juices and still have that texture of the bread and fruit to make you smile.
The French Toast as I mentioned was seen on the Triple D show. That is where I get most of my ideas that and the Tasty Facebook page. To make the French toast you will need more ingredients but it will be well worth it.
You will need the following.
1 loaf of sourdough bread
half cup of Almond milk
half cup of caramel
bag of pecans
There are so many ways to make French toast it can be overwhelming but the goal is to make a light and crispy bread with cinnamon flavors. I would suggest finding one that you like the best. I kept it simple and mixed the eggs in a bowl that is big enough to dunk 2 slices of bread at a time. In this mixture it will be up to you an your tastes and how many people you are making it for. I used the 3 eggs an added the Almond milk and then cinnamon and nutmeg with a pinch of salt. No sugar. Some recipes call or vanilla extract which a little drop is all you need and regular milk but for a lactose intolerant people the almond milk that is in the vanilla flavor this will work out the best and save some steps too. Submerge the bread and flip and put in medium to hot pan and use butter. The butter in the pan will make it crispy. Flip after a minute or so, depending on your liking. Without butter the bread will cook but not get that crispy edge and flavor.
What about the pecans and caramel? I used plain pecans but candied them a little first. With paprika and maple syrup I tossed them to brown and coat them. Set aside in a bowl until serving. The caramel was from a jar, warmed up and stirred the pecans in. Each plate had two slices of French toast and a cross section of the sliced bananas and the caramel pecans. A light zig zag of maple syrup to finish.
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Written by Brian Holt