Linton Hopkins' method for a stress-free post-Thanksgiving brunch, with recipes

Mackensy Lunsford
Southern Kitchen
A breakfast spread, heavy on the pastries, at Linton Hopkins' home.

Chef Linton Hopkins looks forward to the post-Thanksgiving brunch almost as much as the main event. 

"It's funny, I'm usually more hungry the day after Thanksgiving because I've been cooking and tasting all day, I don't really feel like sitting down to a huge dinner," said the chef, who owns Hopkins And Co. restaurant group with his wife, Gina Hopkins.

Hopkins' approach to brunch is quite cheffy in that it creatively reuses the overabundance of Thanksgiving dinner. "Everything on the Thanksgiving table with eggs is how I look at the next day," he said. "Or with bread as a sandwich."

This means serving ham biscuits alongside a spread of pastries from Hopkins and Co. superstar pastry chef Jen Yee. On the side of the pastries, a compote made from the following day's cranberry sauce works nicely. Poached eggs, perfect with reheated gravy, takes the place of Hollandaise. 

"I usually am not trying to do too much work because I'm pretty much exhausted," Hopkins said. "The stuffing for me becomes an egg casserole as well."

Particularly if the stuffing is well-seasoned and studded with sausage, it works perfectly at the heart of a savory breakfast strata (recipe below). 

If you have leftovers of simply roasted sweet potatoes, those make a nice accompaniment to the strata when smashed and griddled in a hot skillet with some butter. 

"Just about everything makes griddle cakes," Hopkins said. "If all you want to do is make griddle cakes, just use some stuffing." 

Hopkins enjoys his griddle cakes with gravy while still standing at the stove. It's his reward for executing brunch for the rest of the family. Chefs are used to eating standing up, he adds. "The food's better right out of the pan, anyway."

That's part of why he serves his breakfast strata straight out of the skillet. It's a simple pleasure, digging into that tender stuffing bound with eggs and milk. And it's one that your family can return to year after year.

Thanksgiving brunch, Hopkins said, is yet another holiday custom. "Creating those rituals and hanging onto them is so important," he said. "You're getting into memory-making, and that's powerful."

Leftover Thanksgiving Stuffing Strata

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients

3-4 cups leftover sausage herb stuffing

3 large eggs

3/4 cup milk

3/4 cup half and half

1 teaspoon kosher salt, Diamond Crystal

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1½ cups aged white cheddar cheese (I personally love Cabot, Tillamook or Montgomery’s)

3 tablespoons butter

Instructions

Mix eggs well and combine with the rest of the items. Let sit for 10 minutes to combine. Melt butter in a 10-inch iron skillet. Pour mix in and bake at 325° until set, 30 to 45 minutes.

More brunch dishes for your holiday table

Drink: Vesper-style mimosas

Spicy bloody mary with pickled okra from “Southern from Scratch”

Eat: Garlic cheddar biscuits

Asparagus with crispy poached eggs and warm bacon vinaigrette

Stuffed French toast with strawberries

Nashville 'Bread Lady's' coveted Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Mackensy Lunsford is the food and culture storyteller for USA TODAY Network's South Region. She's the editor of Southern Kitchen and a correspondent for The American South.

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Reach me:  mlunsford@southernkitchen.com