Stay In and Brunch

In Feature Stories, May 2020 by Raleigh MagazineLeave a Comment

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Who doesn’t love brunch? It’s the perfect way to regroup after a night out, to savor a meal on a sunny patio or to kickstart the weekend. It won’t be long until restaurants reopen but, in the meantime, grab your whisk. We asked 11 Raleigh chefs to share recipes for brunch classics including biscuits and gravy, shrimp and grits and chicken and waffles along with some Mexican dishes such as empanadas and breakfast burritos. If you don’t feel like going to the trouble of cooking and washing up yourself, all of these dishes are available for takeout. 

Union Special Hash (Feeds 4)

Union Special
2409 Crabtree Boulevard, Suite 102,

2½ lbs. Yukon gold potatoes
1pt. sour cream or store-bought creme fraiche
2 medium yellow onions
2 oz. package of chives, sliced thinly
1 Tbsp. dried onion powder
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 bunch green onions, sliced thinly
1 bunch Italian parsley, cleaned and roughly chopped
1 tsp. chili flakes
1 lemon
1 shallot, diced fine
¼ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup canola oil
1 red onion
2 lbs. collard greens, ripped, cleaned, ½” ribbons
1 jar pickled peppers (drained)
8 whole eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Clean and dice potatoes into ¾” cubes. Coat in 2 Tbsp. canola oil and season liberally with salt. Spread evenly on two baking sheets lined with foil and roast for 25 to 30 minutes until fork tender. Set aside to cool. 

Prepare remaining ingredients as potatoes are roasting.

Charred onion
Peel red onion and cut three thick slices. Heat 2 Tbsp. canola oil in a cast iron skillet and cook without flipping until onions char completely on one side. Flip onions and char the other side. Season liberally with salt and set aside. Once cooled, cut into ¾” dice.

French Onion Creme Fraiche
Peel yellow onions and cut in half starting at the root end. Place onions cut side down and slice thinly starting from the “top” of the onion, julienne style. Get a small skillet ripping hot and add 3 Tbsp. canola oil. Add onions and stir to coat in oil. Turn heat to medium and sauté until onions lose all water. When the pan looks almost dry, turn heat down to low and continue to cook onions until dark brown and fully caramelized, 45 minutes to an hour. Season with salt.

Cool onions and add sour cream, sliced chives, juice of one lemon and onion powder. Season with salt and pepper.

Salsa Verde
Combine green onions, parsley, shallot, lemon juice, vinegar, chili flakes and olive oil in a small bowl. Season with salt and set aside; check seasoning and adjust if necessary.

For sunny eggs, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat and add 4 Tbsp. canola oil. Crack eggs and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Once egg whites begin to set, turn heat to low and cover while potatoes finish heating.

Heat a large skillet and add 3 Tbsp. canola oil. Add cooked potatoes and collards and stir often to avoid burning. After a few minutes, add charred onions and a handful of drained pickled peppers. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread a scoop of the French onion creme fraiche on the bottom of four bowls and dish out the hash to each. Add two eggs to each portion and garnish eggs with salsa verde.

Biscuits and Gravy

4242 Six Forks Road, Suite 100,

Photo by Zach Stamey


4 oz. sausage, pork breakfast link
1 Tbsp. bacon fat
½ cup onions, yellow, diced ¹⁄₄”
3 ½ Tbsp. all purpose flour
1 cup half-and-half
2 cups water
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
¹⁄₄ tsp. crushed red chilis

Remove sausage from casing. Place sausage and bacon fat in a sauce pot. 

Cook on medium heat until well browned and crumbled. Add onions and cook until soft. Add flour and cook until flour browns while stirring. 

Whisk in cold water, half-and-half, salt, pepper and crushed red chilis. Continue whisking over low heat until the mixture simmers. 

Continue cooking until velvety and just thick enough. Turn off heat, it will thicken slightly more.

(makes 10, or easier to buy frozen)

4 oz. butter, frozen
3 cups all purpose flour
½ Tbsp. sugar
¼ Tbsp. baking soda
1½ Tbsp. baking powder
½ Tbsp. salt
2 cups buttermilk
1 egg
½ cup flour

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 

Grate butter on large hole cheese grater and keep in freezer until ready to add. 

Place 3 cups flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in bowl of robot coupe (food processor) or mixer and pulse to combine. Add frozen butter and pulse until pea-sized butter pieces remain. Place flour mixture in large bowl, make a hole in center of flour mixture and pour in buttermilk. Stir with a fork until combined, dough should be wet. 

Place on floured surface, press flat and lightly dust top. Fold dough in half 4 times flouring lightly to keep from sticking and rolling to 1½” thick each time. Roll into a final shape of 8” x 10” rectangle and cut biscuits into 10 pieces, square or rounds. 

Place biscuits ¼” apart on parchment-lined half sheet pan. Press your thumb into each biscuit ½” deep. Whisk egg until frothy, brush tops of biscuits with egg liberally. Bake for 20 minutes until fully cooked and golden brown. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.

Breakfast Burrito

Zest Cafe and Home Art
8831 Six Forks Road,

2 scrambled eggs
5 oz. sliced grilled chicken (marinated for 24 hours in red wine vinegar, EVOO, pepper, salt, crushed red pepper flakes and herbs)
diced tomatoes
shredded green leaf lettuce
crumbled queso fresco
julienne cut yellow onion and poblano peppers (sautéed)
zest mix potatoes (yukon gold, red skin and sweet potatoes diced and tossed in chipotle, paprika, garlic and EVOO and roasted at 400 degrees for 20 minutes)
jalapeño flour tortilla

Keeping skillet hot constantly, grill chicken, remove and set aside. Grill flour tortilla, 1 minute per side and set aside. Scramble eggs and place on warm tortilla. Add chicken, peppers and onion mixture plus lettuce, diced tomato, cheese and potatoes, centered in tortilla and roll tightly to form burrito. Place burrito on hot grill or skillet to seal. Enjoy with fresh salsa!

Chicken and Waffles (Feeds 6)

8460 Honeycutt Road, Suite 112,

Photo by Zach Stamey


1¾ cup all purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1¾ cups milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, separated into 2 bowls (egg yolks in a large bowl, whites in medium)

In a bowl, sift flour, salt and baking powder. 

Whisk the egg whites by hand or with a mixer until stiff peaks are formed. Set aside.

In the egg yolk bowl, whisk milk and oil into the egg yolks. Then mix in the dry ingredients with a spatula or wooden spoon until incorporated. Gently fold the whites into the batter. Streaks of white are OK, don’t over mix.

Cook waffles according to your waffle maker’s directions. 


6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp. blackening seasoning 
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
a few shakes of your favorite hot sauce
2 cups all purpose flour 
vegetable oil for frying

In a large bowl, mix the buttermilk, 1 tsp. salt, ½ tsp. pepper, blackening seasoning and hot sauce together. Add the chicken and coat thoroughly. Store in a casserole dish or Ziploc bag and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. 

In a bowl mix the flour, 1 tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper. Working in sets of 3, dredge the chicken in the flour until well coated. Set on cookie sheet.

Heat 1” vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet until 350 degrees. Fry the chicken on both sides to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Set aside on paper towels.


1 lb. bulk breakfast sausage
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil or butter
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. hot sauce
2 Tbsp. flour
2 cups whole milk

In a medium pot, brown the sausage with the vegetable oil until cooked through. Add the flour and stir well. Cook for 2 minutes, continuously stirring. Add the milk and whisk together. Bring to a boil and turn to low. Simmer for 15 minutes until thickened. Season with salt, pepper, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce.

Brioche Beignets

St. Roch Fine Oysters + Bar
223 South Wilmington Street,

Photo by Felicia Perry Trujillo

1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup butter, cubed and at room temperature
5 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. kosher salt
¹⁄₃ cup warm water
1 tsp. instant yeast
2 oz. sugar

In a stand mixer, combine the flour, salt, sugar and yeast well. Add the eggs and warm water. Mix 2 minutes until combined. Add the butter and mix until emulsified, stopping to scrape the bottom of the bowl. When mixed well, pour the dough into a clean container or bowl that is at least twice the size of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size. 

When the dough has risen, scrap the sides of the dough to deflate and allow trapped gas to escape. Cover again and refrigerate until cold, 4 hours or overnight. Remove the cold dough and, working quickly on a flat surface, sprinkle the dough with flour on both sides; use just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the table. Roll the dough flat, adding a pinch more flour if necessary, to a ¼” thickness. Cut the dough into squares, about 2” x 2” and transfer to a floured sheet tray. 

Refrigerate until ready to cook. Heat 2” of oil to 350 degrees and fry beignets in a single layer until golden brown on each side. Remove the beignets on to a plate covered with paper towels and cover with an obscene amount of powdered sugar. Enjoy.

Shrimp and Grits

Whiskey Kitchen
201 W Martin Street,

Photo by Blaine Butler


3 oz. butter
1 pint yellow grits
1 quart milk
1 quart chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste

Melt 2 oz. butter in a pot over medium-high heat. Add grits. Toast until they smell like popcorn. Add milk and chicken stock, stirring constantly to prevent clumping. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until grits begin to boil. Drop to medium-low heat. Add salt and pepper. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in remaining 1 oz. butter.


1 oz. sliced garlic
4 oz. diced shallots
8 oz. halved cherry tomatoes
1.5 cups tomato juice
2 tsp crushed red pepper
½ tsp chili powder
1 Tbsp paprika
2 bay leaves
3 oz. diced bacon
2 oz. butter
2 cups chicken stock
3 oz. diced red bell peppers
2 oz. bourbon
1 lb. shrimp

Cook bacon in a pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots, bell peppers and garlic and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add chili powder, crushed red pepper, paprika, cherry tomatoes and bay leaves. Sauté for about 2 minutes. Add shrimp and deglaze with bourbon. Add chicken stock and tomato juice. Cook for about 5 minutes at medium-high heat. Remove from heat and whisk in butter.

Empanadas de Huitlacoche

2130 Clark Avenue,

Photo by Carolina Stamey


1 bell pepper, any color, small dice
1 cup yellow onion, small dice
½ can chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped
1 Roma tomato, small dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp. garlic powder
1 can black beans, drained
½ cup huitlacoche* (optional)


2 cups masa harina (Maseca instant corn masa mix)
½ cup water
1 tsp. kosher salt

Special Equipment (preferred, but not required)

tortilla press
plastic shopping bag
small deep fryer

Heat a couple tablespoons of neutral oil in a wide, shallow pot. Add bell pepper and onion and cook over medium heat until softened. Add chipotles, tomatoes and garlic and continue to cook. Reduce heat to low and let cook down for a while. You are trying to evaporate as much liquid as possible. Add garlic powder and cook briefly. You want the powder to absorb the liquid so it becomes uniform with the mixture, and cook the “raw spice” flavor out. Add black beans and huitlacoche (if using). Continue to cook down, smashing the beans slightly, for a mixture of whole and smashed beans for the filling. Season filling to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, make the dough. Mix the masa, salt and water until thoroughly combined. Roll into roughly 1 ½” balls and cover with a wet paper towel. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and spray well with non-stick spray.

When filling has completely cooled, begin making your empanadas. 

Take the shopping bag and trace two circles the size of the tortilla press and cut out the circles. Place one circle on the bottom of the tortilla press and place a dough ball on top. Cover the ball with the other circle and lower the top to the press. Press down slowly to flatten the ball into a circle roughly 1⁄16” thick.

Place a small amount of filling towards the bottom of the circle and fold the top half down, making a half-moon shape. With your fingers or a fork, press the edges together. Repeat until you’ve used all the filling or dough. Make sure you don’t let the empanadas touch on the baking sheets.

Ideally, you should freeze the empanadas before cooking because they are easier to handle. Also, if you make a larger batch than you plan to serve, you can keep them frozen in a bag or container once they’ve completely frozen on the tray.

The best method for cooking these empanadas is deep frying (350 degrees for 6 minutes), which you can do in a home deep fryer or a tall pot with a thermometer. They can also be baked on the middle rack of your oven (450 degrees for 12 minutes).

Serve with an array of salsas, crunchy garnishes, Latin American-style cheeses, fresh cilantro, and lime wedges. This is a great item for entertaining, especially if you’ve made a large batch ahead of time!

*Huitlacoche is a specialty product that is very difficult to find, even at Latin American markets. It is a fungus that grows on corn and has a very unique, earthy flavor. It’s also been called corn mushroom or Mexican truffle and is harvested at very specific times during the corn growing season. We use a jarred product because it’s more stable and easier to find than fresh but you can omit it all together if you wish.

Cocotte (serves 10 to 12)

La Farm
4248 Northwest Cary Parkway,

1 loaf sourdough bread, slightly stale, cut into 1” cubes
1 baguette slightly stale, cut into 1” cubes (about 2 lb. total)
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 lb. pork breakfast sausage, crumbled
8 oz. button mushrooms, quartered
6 shallots or 1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ cup dry white wine
½ lb. smoked ham, finely diced
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated Comté or Gruyere cheese
12 large eggs, at room temperature
3 cups heavy cream
1 Tbsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a 9” x 13” x 2” baking dish with nonstick vegetable spray. 

Combine the sourdough and baguette cubes in a large mixing bowl. Place half of the bread cubes in the prepared baking dish. Set the other half aside.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the sausage and fry, stirring frequently, until browned, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage crumbles to a double layer of paper towels to drain.

Keeping the fat in the pan on medium heat, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes. Add the shallots and stir frequently for 2 additional minutes. Stir in the garlic and fry for 1 additional minute. Add the wine and stir to deglaze the pan. Remove from heat and set aside. 

Sprinkle half of the ham over the bread cubes in the baking dish, followed by half of the sausage, half of the mushroom mixture and half of the mozzarella. Cover with the remaining bread cubes and then repeat the layering of ham, sausage, mushrooms and mozzarella. Sprinkle the top with Comté cheese. 

Whisk the eggs and cream in a large mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper and then pour over the top of the casserole. Cover the pan with foil. Transfer to the refrigerator and allow the bread to absorb the flavors and liquid for at least 4 hours or up to 12 hours. 

Remove the cocotte from the refrigerator 1 hour before baking and let come to room temperature, still covered. 

Place the casserole on a baking sheet in the preheated oven. Bake for 1 hour then uncover and bake until golden brown and bubbling, about 15 minutes more. 

Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting and serving.


1053 EastWhitaker Mill Road, Suite 111,

3 Tbsp. EVOO
1 large yellow onion, halved, thinly sliced
1 large red pepper, seeded, thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 tsp. dry harissa spice (or mild chili powder)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika
¹⁄₈ tsp. cayenne
1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes chopped, with their juices
1 14-oz. can chickpeas drained, rinsed
¾ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper
6 eggs
1¼ cups feta, crumbled
handful of cilantro chopped

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat oil in a large, oven-safe skillet (like a cast-iron skillet) over medium-low heat. Add onion and red pepper and cook gently until vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute; stir in all spices and cook another minute. 

Pour in tomatoes with juices, chickpeas, salt and pepper; simmer for about 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens up. Stir in crumbled feta and check seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed.

Crack eggs over the top of the sauce; season eggs with salt and pepper. Bake about 8-10 minutes or just until eggs are set. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with fresh, warm pita or the best toast you have.

Huevos Motuleños

Dos Taquitos
6101 Glenwood Ave,

Photo by Felicia Perry Trujillo

2 corn tostadas
4 oz. carnitas (pork)
3 oz. black beans
3 oz. refried beans
1 oz. salsa de molcajete
1 egg
½ oz. cilantro
½ oz. pickled onions
1 oz. chipotle sauce
1 oz. tomatillo sauce
5 pieces of sweet plantain 

Mince the cilantro. Cook the carnitas in a slow cooker or skillet with oil and heat up black beans and refried beans in separate sauce pans. Once carnitas are cooked, pull apart with a fork so they are shredded. Fry sweet plantains and cut into cubes. Cook egg to your preference (we recommend using a poached egg).

Spread refried beans on one tostada and add cubed sweet plantains. Drizzle molcajete sauce and top with second tostada. Add black beans and shredded carnitas. Place cooked egg on top of the carnitas and black bean mix. 

Bathe the left side with the tomatillo sauce and the right side with the chipotle sauce. Garnish with pickled onions and minced cilantro.

Buttermilk Biscuits (makes 16)

2519 Fairview Road, 

Photo by Felicia Perry Trujillo

5 cups pastry flour
1¼ tsp. baking soda
1¼ tsp. baking powder
½ oz. instant yeast
¹⁄₃ cup sugar
½ Tbsp. salt
½ cup butter (frozen)
½ cup lard (frozen)
1 pint + 1 oz. of buttermilk
2 oz. melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Sift the flour, baking soda and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the yeast, sugar and salt into the bowl and mix together.

Grate the frozen butter and lard into the flour mixture. Use your fingertips or a biscuit cutter to break the fats apart so that there are no pieces larger than a pea. (Use your fingertips as opposed to your palms, so that the heat of your hands does not melt the fat).

When your fat flecks are broken into pea-sized pieces, add the buttermilk. Mix the dough, just enough so that the buttermilk is incorporated and the dough comes together. Do not overwork it. 

Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a well-floured table. With a rolling pin or your hands roll/press the dough to 1” thick. Mentally divide the dough into thirds. Fold the left third onto the center third and then the right third onto the left third. 

Repeat last step one or two more times.

Allow the dough to rest under a damp towel for 10 minutes.

Roll dough out to 1” thick and cut out your biscuits. Place them on parchment paper on a sheet pan so that they are touching each other. Cover the biscuits with a towel and let them proof in a warm space for 20-30 minutes, until they double in size.

Cook the biscuits for 10 minutes, spin the pan, and cook for another 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush the melted butter over top of your biscuits. Serve warm!

We Can’t Wait For These Spots to Reopen

Beasley’s Chicken + Honey
237 S. Wilmington Street
Dish we miss: Belgian Waffle

Big Ed’s
220 Wolfe Street
Dish we miss: Hot cakes

Cameron Bar and Grill
2018 Clarke Avenue 
Dish we miss: Veggie Omelette

106 S. Wilmington Street
Dish we miss: Calentado

Coquette Brasserie
4351 The Circle at North Hills
Dish we miss: Quiche 

Humble Pie
317 S. Harrington Street
Dish we miss: Huevos Rancheros

2110 Blue Ridge Road
Dish we miss: Hoppin John Burger

Midtown Grille
4421 Six Forks Road 
Dish we miss: The Crabcake Benedict

301 W Martin Street
Dish we miss: Chicken and Waffle Sandwich

Poole’s Diner
426 S. McDowell Street
Dish we miss: Macaroni Au Gratin

Rosewater Kitchen & Bar
110 Park at North Hills Street
Dish we miss: Porchetta Hash

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