I’ve been thinking about Christmas morning lately. Like for the last couple of weeks. I haven’t been thinking about presents. No, I’ve been thinking about breakfast. Remember, it’s the most important meal of the day. And you’re going to need your strength on Christmas day. Even so, Christmas morning is about presents and witnessing the joy of others opening the gifts you so carefully chose (or made) for them, right? It’s not about fussing over a lot of stuff in the kitchen. But this doesn’t mean you have to eat cereal. There are a number of things you can prepare ahead of time so that breakfast is nearly as memorable as that shiny new toy. Things like biscuits and scones can be made ahead of time and frozen before they are baked. But sometimes you want a little more substance. Maybe something that is eggy, cheesy, and all around delicious. Maybe something like this breakfast casserole?
Breakfast casserole? Yes. I know, the name could use some work. But I think casseroles get a bad rap. Besides, it sounds better if you say it with a little Southern accent. Okay, maybe not. But if you want to be fancy, you could call it a savory bread pudding.
I got the recipe years ago from Christy, a friend in Georgia. We all stayed out late and spent the night at her place. In the morning, I woke up to the smell of something wonderful. When did she have time to make breakfast? Turns out she planned ahead. Smart girl.
This breakfast casserole comes out of the oven as something in between a crustless quiche and a bread pudding. Silky eggs mingling with the savory bacon (or sausage — your choice)… all topped off with cheese. And all you had to do when you stumbled out of bed was take it out of the fridge and turn the oven on. What’s not to love?
(adapted from Christy)
Make this up the night before and enjoy a hearty breakfast without the fuss. In the morning all you have to do is turn on the oven, set the timer, and eat. To balance things out, serve it with a side of fruit.
This is an almost infinitely versatile recipe. The eggs and milk are about the only things that need to stay constant. Use any type of sausage you like, or ham. Or go veg with sauteed mushrooms and spinach. It’s a great use for bread that is a little past its prime (hard not moldy, that is), and really any type will do (even Wonderbread).
1/2 pound bacon or sausage
bread, about 6 slices (depending on size)
about 2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Cook the bacon or sausage. Drain the fat and set aside. (If using bacon, tear it into bite sized pieces).
- Butter enough slices of bread to cover the bottom of a 11×17 baking dish (see notes for other options), buttered side down. (I used part of a 2-day-old pugliese loaf sliced into about 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices).
- Sprinkle the sausage or bacon over the bread. Top that with the shredded cheese (I used a mix of cheddar and swiss).
- Beat together eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour this over the cheese, bacon, and bread.
- Cover baking dish with foil or plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
- In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees and remove the baking dish from the refrigerator to sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.
- Bake 30-40 minutes, until the eggs and cheese puff up and get brown around the edges.
- Allow to cool for 5 minutes, serve warm.
- If you would rather make this in a 9×13 inch baking dish, increase the eggs to 8 and the milk to 2 cups. Adjust other ingredients as desired. Baking time would also increase to 45-50 minutes.