A tradition for many families on Christmas morning is a hot and cheesy breakfast casserole. Why Christmas morning I have no idea, other than it’s a day when many are hosting family members in town from afar, and a breakfast casserole easily feeds a crowd.
That and you can assemble it the night before and just plop it in the oven in the morning. This way you, the cook, can enjoy the festivities of the morning with your guests instead futzing about in the kitchen.
This recipe is based on one from a Jimmy Dean sausage ad pulled from a magazine 20 years ago or so by my friend Heidi. We’ve tweaked it over the years so I have no idea how close it is to the original anymore.
Ratios change, but the idea remains the same—cubed rustic bread in a casserole dish, topped with grated cheddar, browned crumbled sausage, and some chopped tomatoes and mushrooms if you want, with a milk egg mixture poured over, and the whole thing baked until puffy and browned.
Cut it into squares to serve!
Bread that is a little bit dry will hold up better in the casserole and provide more structure, which is why breakfast casseroles tend to call for "day old" bread. If your bread is fresh or soft, after you cube it, spread it out on a sheet pan and put it in a 200°F oven for 10 to 12 minutes.
- 1 lb of Italian pork sausage
- 5 cups cubed day old bread (we recommend rustic French or Italian loaf), cut into 3/4-inch to 1 inch-wide cubes
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 10 eggs, beaten
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- Fresh ground pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
- 1/2 cup peeled, cored, chopped tomatoes (optional)
Heat a skillet on medium high. Break up the sausage into chunks and cook, working in batches if need be, until browned on all sides. As you cook the sausage, you can break up the larger chunks into smaller pieces. When lightly browned, remove from pan to a paper towel lined plate to absorb any excess fat.
In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, dry mustard, onion powder and pepper.
Place the cubed bread in a well buttered 9x13 inch baking pan. Sprinkle with cheese. Sprinkle with chopped tomatoes and mushrooms if using. Top with the browned crumbled sausage. Pour the egg milk mixture evenly over the bread and cheese.
Black & Decker G48TD 3-in-1 Waffle Maker & Indoor Grill/Griddle, Silver
Kitchen (Black & Decker)