Breakfast casserole is a special tradition in my family. My mom usually makes it – “especially for Dr. O,” of course – during most of our visits back home. It’s pretty much guaranteed to make an appearance on the Sunday morning table if we have guests.
My mom got this recipe from a magazine several years back. I would credit the source if I could, but I’m clueless. This recipe makes a dense, delicious casserole that will comfortably serve 6 very hungry people, 8 if half of your crowd won’t need seconds. It reheats really nicely the next day as well.
1 package (16 oz.) Jimmy Dean regular flavor sausage
10 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups cubed bread
1/2 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces (2 cups) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped (optional)
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 F. In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, dry mustard, and salt; stir well. Distribute half the bread evenly in a buttered 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with half the pepper, half the cheese, half the sausage, and half of each optional ingredient. Repeat layers using remaining bread, pepper, cheese, sausage, and optional ingredients. Pour egg mixture evenly over the casserole. (I use a spatula to press gently over the top of the casserole at this stage to help the bread absorb the egg mixture.)
Bake uncovered 55 – 60 minutes or until eggs are set. Tent with foil if top browns too quickly. Cut into 12 pieces and serve.
The results were absolutely fantastic, but I did run into one road bump. When I took my casserole out after an hour, the eggs were set but the casserole wasn’t very hot. I turned the heat up to 350, covered it with foil, and put it back in for 10 more minutes. That did the trick. I didn’t even have to wait to cut it; all liquids were absorbed and it was hot, set, and ready to go.
I hate to even admit that I do this, but this casserole gets even better (if that’s possible) with a drizzle of maple syrup. 🙂
TIPS: I assembled the casserole the same day I baked it, but my mom usually puts it together the night before (no more than 12 hours before bake time). She lets it sit on the counter for an hour to come to room temperature before baking.
I have officially decided that I’m going to use challah from here on out for all dishes that require bread to absorb liquid. It was perfect for the Banana-Raisin Bread Pudding, and it was perfect here. I actually found it at my regular old Kroger store this time around, so using it won’t require a special trip to Central Market anymore (though I’ll take any excuse to shop there!).