‘Mad Men’ Meatless Monday: Rum French Toast

Breakfast, Mad Men, Meatless / Monday, March 12th, 2012

Welcome to Mad Men Week! Every day this week, I’m celebrating the March 25 return of “Mad Men” with a recipe inspired by the show. Today’s Rum French Toast comes from the episode “The Beautiful Girls,” where Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka) makes French toast for her dad, Don Draper (Jon Hamm), and accidentally tops it with rum instead of Mrs. Butterworth’s. (Don: “That’s rum. Read labels.” Sally: “Is it bad?” Don: “Not really.”)

You know you’ve got a good piece of French toast when it’s delicious on its own.

An eggy piece of French toast needs  syrup, powdered sugar or jam, but a really good French toast is sweet, buttery and crisp by itself.

So, what separates the eggy from the awesome?

If you want really good French toast, you’ve got to disrespect the bread.

That’s right, instead of wrapping it up to seal in the freshness, you’ve got to let it go stale. Take it out of the packaging, slice it, and leave it out on the counter all night. The drier your bread, the more rummy custard it can soak up without falling apart. And the more rummy custard, the better.

Another thing, instead of soaking and frying your bread right away, you’ve got to ignore it. Let it sit for a minute or two on a wire rack to give the custard time to really sink in. Don’t return its texts or phone calls. Just let it sit there. Then the custard will soak all the way into the center of the bread instead of just coating the outside and making it eggy.

Finally, you can’t stop after you’ve fried the bread and pour on the syrup, because it’ll go soggy. You’ve got to dry out that custard. Slide your French toast into the oven, and bake it for five minutes. That extra cooking time sets the custard in the bread, so you get French toast that’s nice and crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside. Instead of chewy and soggy and sad.

For a quick next-day’s breakfast, mix up the custard and refrigerate it before you slice your bread.

If rum is your thing, you’re in luck, because this recipe has rum not only in the custard but in the syrup. Just grab a saucepan to warm your maple syrup, and add the rum to your liking. It gives the French toast a nice boozy kick that’ll get your morning party started.

P.S. Planning to serve it for a party? Steal a page from Martha, and serve the syrup in shot glasses. A shot glass full of maple-rum syrup is a Totally Good Thing.

Even More “Mad Men”:

Blue Hawaiian

Jameson and Ginger

“Big Texas Belt Buckle” T-Bone Steak

Creamed Spinach Gratin

No-Bake Cherry Cheesecake

Stupendous Strawberry Shake

“Mad Men” Menu Ideas (2010)

“Mad Men” Premiere Menu (2009)

Rum French Toast with Maple-Rum Syrup

Adapted from Alton Brown (“Good Eats,” Food Network) and “Martha Stewart Weddings” (Winter 2012)

Makes 4 servings

  • 8 (1/2-inch) slices day-old brioche or challah bread
  • 1 cup half-and-half or whole milk
  • 1/4 cup rum (spiced or dark)
  • 3 large eggs
  •  Pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (preferably grade B)
  • 1/2 cup rum (spiced or dark)
  1. The Night Before You Make Your French Toast: Slice your bread, and leave it out to dry. In medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, rum (if using), eggs and salt. Refrigerate custard overnight.
  2. When Ready to Cook: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. Pour the custard mixture into a pie pan (large enough to fit 2 slices of bread at once) or 9 x 13 baking dish, and set aside.
  4. Dip bread into mixture, two slices at a time. Let break soak for 30 seconds on each side, and place it on a cooling rack sitting in a sheet pan. Allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat the process with remaining bread.
  5. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large nonstick pan over medium heat (or an electric skillet warmed to 350 degrees F).
  6. Place 2 slices of bread at a time into the pan, and cook until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  7. Remove from pan, and place on wire rack. Repeat cooking with remaining bread, 2 slices at a time, adding 1 tablespoon butter to the pan for each batch.
  8. When all 8 slices are cooked and on the rack, slide them into the oven for  5 minutes.
  9. In the meantime, warm the maple syrup and rum over low heat in a small saucepan.
  10. Serve French toast immediately with Maple-Rum Syrup, whipped cream or fruit.