Every year on Christmas morning, my mom would wake up before the triplets and I stormed the Christmas tree to make a delectable one-pot breakfast to eat after all the presents had been opened. Her Sausage and Egg Casserole was (and still is) my favorite thing about that Christmas morning, except for all the gifts, of course, and the nerdy way we still gather around the tree in our jammies, plop down on the floor, and wait patiently for mom to distribute a gift to each of us so we can open them at the same time—only now we can drink mimosas while we do it, which makes the waiting so much more fun than when we were younger.
As luck would have it, I planned on drinking some mimosas for breakfast this weekend with Doug and his roommates (why not, right? It was Sunday!), and I wanted to come up with something new and different to serve with them. Luckily mom’s wonderful casserole came to mind and I used her recipe as inspiration for my own breakfast bake.
As usual, I made some variations: I swapped out kielbasa for some Jimmy Dean’s Pork Sausage (more breakfast-y in my opinion), added peppers and onions (I like to squeeze in some veggies in the a.m.), and subbed in whole wheat bread for mom’s traditional white.
The result is what I could call my dream breakfast casserole—yes, there’s something very down home about it, but that’s OK. I’m a Kentucky girl at heart, after all, and Kentuckians love casseroles morning, noon and night.
This casserole is basically a savory bread pudding; the bread and eggs bake together into a tender, fluffy, soufflé-like custard. As it bakes, the sausage and pepper flavors seep into the bread, permeating each and every bite with breakfast sausage goodness. (Obviously this is not a dish for the pork averse.) Of course, this breakfast has a lot of sentimental value to me, but I think you’re going to enjoy it just as much as we always do. It’s one of those breakfasts that is sure to please your family, Christmas morning or not.
One Year Ago: Sunday Supper: Not Your Mother’s Meat Sauce
Sausage & Pepper Breakfast Casserole
This casserole is basically a savory bread pudding; the bread and eggs bake together into a tender, fluffy, soufflé-like custard. Like a soufflé, the casserole will fall in height almost immediately after it comes out of the oven. No worries, waiting a few minutes before you cut into it firms up the texture for slicing and serving. You can put the unbaked casserole in the fridge overnight and bake in the morning. This casserole serves 6 to 10 depending on how hungry your guests are and what else you’re serving. Fresh fruit would be a great accompaniment. Click here to download a printable PDF copy of this recipe.
1 tsp. oil
1 lb. pork sausage (I recommend Jimmy Dean All Natural)
1 red bell pepper, chopped fine
1 red onion, chopped fine
4½ cups whole wheat bread, cubed (a little more than half a standard loaf)
10 whole eggs, beaten
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly grated black pepper
½ tsp. mustard powder
½ tsp. onion powder
3 to 4 cups of milk
2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Brown meat. Preheat oven to 350˚F and spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil, and then the sausage, breaking it up into little pieces with the back of a wooden spoon as you brown it. Cook the sausage until browned all over, then transfer it to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain off excess fat.
Sauté veggies. Pour out all but about a tablespoon of the excess fat out of the skillet and set it back over medium heat. Add the peppers and onions and sauté until the veggies begin to soften and brown, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan as you sauté. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.
Build the casserole. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the salt, pepper, onion powder, mustard powder and 3 cups of milk. Arrange the bread evenly over the bottom of the 9 x 13 baking dish. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the bread, then the peppers and onions, and finally the crumbled sausage. Pour half of the egg mixture over the bread. If it seems like there’s enough left of the egg mixture to pretty much cover the bread cubes, go ahead and pour the rest of it in. If not, whisk in an extra cup of milk into the eggs, then pour it over the bread mixture. Sprinkle the casserole with the remaining cheese. Let the casserole sit for 10 minutes before baking. You can also put the unbaked casserole in the fridge overnight if you want to make it a day ahead of time.
Bake the casserole in the center of the preheated oven until it’s pulled away from the sides of the pan, is puffy all over, and browning around the edges, about 35-45 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, then slice and serve.