One of the best things about working at The Kitchen Cupboard & Icebox is our exposure to great food. Not so long ago it was inventory counting time at our shop, it’s a process that needs to be done, but we get a little excited about it because somebody always brings in a great dish of food for us to share! This year Dodi brought in one of the best breakfast casseroles we have ever had. This meant we had to be at the shop early enough for breakfast, but the early rise was well worth the breakfast we were treated to. (And we are all sure that the inventory was counted much faster when we had good food to look forward to.) As we thought about this newsletter and the upcoming Easter season many of us thought that recipe would be a great one to have on hand, especially with houses filled with more family and company. What makes it even better is the recipe can be prepared up to 24 hours ahead of when you need it. If we were all excited to share this with our families then this recipe would also be ideal to share with our customers! So here it is, we hope you will enjoy it as much as we do! (And by the way, the leftovers heat up great in the microwave.)
Make-Ahead Sausage and Egg Breakfast Bake
- 1 (14-inch) loaf Italian bread, ends trimmed ( we use our crusty Portuguese buns)
- 1 1/2 pounds bulk pork sausage ( we use ham or bacon instead sometimes)
- 1 small onion, chopped fine (our frozen, diced onions work when you’re in a rush)
- 3 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese (sharp generally means aged, so we use an old cheddar)
- 12 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 4 cups 1% milk
- 1 ½ teaspoons table salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce (optional)
- Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Slice bread in half lengthwise then slice each half into ½ inch-thick slices. Spread the bread in single layers on two rimmed baking sheets and bake until golden, 10-15 minutes, flipping bread and switching and rotating sheets halfway through (or bake one sheet pan at a time). Take care not to let the bread burn – it should be golden brown and toasted. Let the bread cool for 15 minutes.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage and onion until the pork is no longer pink, breaking the meat into bite-sized pieces as it cooks.
- Lightly coat a 9X13-inch baking dish with cooking spray (or grease with lacopan or butter). Shingle half of the bread in the prepared pan so that the edges overlap slightly (a couple of times when I’ve made this, my slices weren’t long enough to shingle so I just placed the bread in a single layer and it worked fine). Top with half of the sausage mixture and 1 cup cheese. Repeat with remaining bread, remaining sausage mixture, and remaining cheese.
- In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and hot sauce together. Pour evenly over the assembled casserole. Place the casserole on a rimmed baking sheet and wrap the casserole with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap lightly on the top of the casserole. Fill another 9X13-inch dish with cans of food (beans, fruit, whatever) and nest the weighted dish on top of the assembled casserole. You’ll be glad you placed the assembled casserole on a rimmed baking sheet at this point as there may be a bit of spillage over the sides as the casserole compacts. This will help the bread soak up the egg mixture. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
- When ready to bake, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Let casserole stand at room temperature while the oven is heating. Remove weights, unwrap casserole, and bake until the edges and center have puffed and the top is golden brown, about 1 hour. Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe Source: adapted slightly from Cook’s Country, this version is brought to us by Melskitchencafe.com