If you’re looking for inspiration to make this year’s Mother’s Day brunch menu stand out from last year’s, add a bit of adventure to one of America’s favorite breakfast foods, which also happens to be a kitchen staple—the egg. With 73 percent of consumers who dine out on Mother’s Day doing so for breakfast and/or brunch, according to the National Restaurant Association, it’s important to impress diners by taking a simple but satiating angle on the most important meal of the day—a feat that’s both easy and cost-effective (the USDA’s most recent data quotes the average wholesale price of a carton of conventional eggs to be $1.05) when achieved with versatile egg recipes.
“When it comes to holiday brunches and trying to put a special twist on breakfast, try to keep things accessible,” advises Jordan Mackey, executive chef of Six Seven at the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle. Mackey’s Lobster Benedict with Crisp Parma Ham,Wild Arugula and Lobster Hollandaise Wild Arugula and Lobster Hollandaise wonal eggs benedict and a luxurious lobster holiday treat.
“Even though lobster is an exotic ingredient, it still has an element of comfort,” explains Mackey, who wished to maintain the inherent comfort food aspect that makes breakfast special to so many moms. “Go back to the old ‘KISS’ acronym [Keep It Simple, Stupid]—mom doesn’t want to venture into uncharted waters of cuisine. Keep things simple but creative.”
That’s exactly what Executive Chef Brandon Sharp does at his Calistoga, CA, restaurant, Solbar at Solage Calistoga. Taking inspiration from a traditional Frisée aux Lardons bistro salad, Sharp created a Bacon and Egg Salad that updated the original French recipe with local California ingredients.
“What’s neat about eggs is that you can straddle the line between sweet and savory more than with any other ingredient,” Sharp says. “And that’s important for any brunch menu, for sure.”
Also, when planning this year’s Mother’s Day fare, take into consideration that not all eggs are created equal. And with the average wholesale price for a carton of organic eggs at about $1.30 more than that of its conventional counterpart, Sharp’s philosophy is to never shy away from more costly eggs.
“If you’re going to feature your eggs, don’t be afraid to spend money on them,” says Sharp, who sees a huge quality jump in the taste, yolk color and poaching ability of fresher, though more expensive, eggs. “Buy the best you can because the difference is unbelievable.”
Of course, harvesting your own eggs guarantees freshness—a fact that Chef John Stewart of Sonoma County restaurants Zazu Restaurant & Farm and Bovolo can attest to. Stewart, along with wife and business partner Duskie Estes, raises his own free-range chickens and incorporates the farm-fresh eggs into a Florence-inspired Breakfast Pizza.
“The diversity of the chickens’ diets creates a much fuller flavor in the eggs,” says Stewart, who counterbalances sweet brunch dishes with more sustaining egg options. “Also the fresher the egg, the more the white stays together and doesn’t run out.”
If a chicken farm is out of your reach, look to fresh, local ingredients as welcome additions to your Mother’s Day recipes. Another option is to feature an egg-based sauce as an unexpected alternative to a dish that gives the egg center stage.
“The egg is a really versatile ingredient and is another ingredient I can use to make all sorts of dressings,” says Adam Hoffman, chef de cuisine at Rover’s in Seattle. A self-proclaimed saucier at heart, Hoffman incorporates eggs into the sauce of his Dungeness Crab Salad with Osetra Caviar and Champagne Sabayon , along with one of Seattle’s local treasures, the Dungeness crab.
“Just with the use of the sabayon technique you can go with a very different [egg] dish,” Hoffman says. “It’s really elegant and very decadent.” Check out Hoffman’s non-traditional sabayon technique here.