We live in the era of “snack dinner” and cheese boards, so it’s no surprise to see a new entry on the board scene: the breakfast board. This one is a real beauty, whether you’re hosting or simply doing it up for friends and family at the start of the new year.
There’s just something so marvelous about walking into someone’s home and seeing a “something for everyone” feast at the ready: waffles; sausages; smoked salmon; jammy soft-cooked eggs; little pitchers of maple syrup and honey. We love it because there’s also no gawking if someone helps herself to seconds; what are “seconds” in this “more is more” scenario? We asked Belle English, resident breakfast board aficionado and crack test kitchen cook, what takes a board from good to great, and how to pull it off with pancakes—er, panache.
1. Have Carbs
“Like every great breakfast, this starts with a carbohydrate,” says Belle. “That can be a waffle or a toast or a pancake. But have that be the starting point for thinking about your board.” She’s a big waffle fan, since “they can go in a sweet or savory direction and easily please many people.”
2. Be Sweet
Something has to go on or alongside the carbs! “Think sweet,” says Belle. “Syrup, butter, honey, fresh fruit.” As for the butter, “either pre-slice it and place it on parchment or put it in a ramekin.”
3. Also Be Savory
Every party will have its savory breakfast stalwart. For those people, consider smoked salmon, crème fraiche, capers and fresh herbs, says Belle. (And if you go that way, perhaps set out a basket or board of bagels alongside!)
4. Be Meaty
Unless yours is an all-vegetarian or vegan affair, “you can’t have breakfast without breakfast meats,” says Belle. Load up on good sausages, cut into manageable portions, crisp bacon or anything else your loved ones adore.
5. Get Eggy
Wise words from Belle: “Hardboiled eggs are the best way to serve a lot of people eggs at one time.” Serve them warm or at room temperature or chilled.
6. Like with Like
“People eat with their eyes,” says Belle, so “group what goes together together!” Crème fraiche can nestle next to salmon, which can sit next to a tiny ramekin of capers. Bonus: This makes things “easier to navigate” for hungry guests. That said, consider “weaving the waffles in groups throughout the board,” says Belle. That makes these favorites accessible to everyone.
7. Prepare the Room Temperature Foods First
It sounds obvious, but we’ve certainly forgotten this smart rule: Set out the butter to soften, put water on to boil, wash the berries and set them out to dry, and set out syrup and honey to come to temperature. You want foods like waffles and bacon to be warm, says Belle, so take care of the room temperature treats first. And while you’re at it, turn on the oven to cook a big batch of bacon at once!
8. Have an Advance Strategy
Don’t be the stressed-out breakfast host. “Make your waffle batter in advance so that all you have to do in the morning is heat up the waffle iron and get going,” says Belle. “Keep waffles warm by putting them on a sheet tray in a single layer in a 200 degree oven. (Don’t stack or some waffles will get soggy).”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Choose your board, and happy breakfast boarding!