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Lox, Stock and Brunch

Brunch is a lock with this easy, elegant scramble
Gabe Kennedy's Soft Scramble
Photo: Tasting Table 

Between the office parties, tree-trimming shindigs, family get-togethers and after-work cocktails, every night until New Year's Eve looks booked. That's why a chilled-out, low-fuss, seriously-just-show-up-in-your-pj's weekend brunch is an especially appealing addition to anyone's social calendar, even if you have to—strike that, get to—host it yourself.

While you can bring the razzle-dazzle (no one will turn his or her nose up at a white mimosa or a pickle-decked Bloody Mary), comfort is what's key here—both for guests and hosts alike. That's why we're head over bunny slippers in love with this supremely simple, slightly pinky-up version of the classic NYC diner combo of lox, eggs and onions, which The Taste winner Gabe Kennedy calls L.E.O. (see the recipe).

Kennedy inherited his love for the dish, fittingly enough, from his Uncle Leo, who would turn out big batches anytime the budding chef came to visit. The irresistible meld of slow-sautéed onions, luxuriant eggs and brined, cold-smoked salmon made such a vivid impression on Kennedy's senses, it eventually became his own go-to dish for serving large crowds at weekend get-togethers. He explains, "I love to make big scrambles and put them out for people to indulge in, because I want to talk to my guests and hang out with my friends and not be stuck in the kitchen."

It all starts with a little bit of patience (forget that breakneck diner short-order pace) and a decent amount of butter. Take some time to sweat some sweetness into the diced onions, then slowly introduce the eggs. They don't need any added liquid, just the moisture of the onions and the butter that emulsifies into them as you slowly, gently stir the mixture into small curds over low heat. Once the eggs are soft, almost custard like, fold in a handful of lox—diced finely so it warms evenly and brings a salty bite to each mouthful—remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rest of the butter. (Live a little. It's the holidays.)

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When it's time to plate, Kennedy opts for simplicity—and a few eye-catching elements that also add pops of flavor. "Food is innately gorgeous, beautiful just the way it is," he says. "The eggs are like golden sunshine into the center of the bowl. Green is wonderful. So is red." Those colors come in the form of carefully chopped chives and a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper to balance the eggs' richness with a note of sweet heat.

From there, all you need is a few spoons for people to help themselves and slather it all onto crisp slices of toast. While this recipe serves four, it's easy to double, triple, quadruple or more. Just figure on two eggs for each guest—and no shortage of invitations coming your way in 2016.

Follow Kennedy on Twitter and Instagram.

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