One of the things I love about brunch is how quickly eggs cook. What I hate about brunch is frying bacon or breakfast sausages. They splatter grease everywhere and, though I love the smell of bacon, I don’t like it in the pungency that fills the house to the point I can’t taste anything but bacon or sausage. And it makes my hair and skin smell like grease. Who wants to smell like cured pork first thing Christmas morning?
I found this recipe for a brunch dish on SAVEUR that had eggs and sausage and bread and cheese, perfect for my first SAVEUR recipe blog. Also I wanted to see if I should make it for Christmas brunch and decided to take it for a test drive with my friends. Check! Definitely passed the taste test. I can spend Christmas Day not smelling like pig meat.
The only stove top work involves browning the sausage out of the casing, which cooks in minutes, and you can man handle the meat. Unlike bacon, you don’t have to make sure the meat lies on the pan just so and avoid overlapping layers and, unlike breakfast sausages, you don’t have to turn the meat to brown evenly along the cylinder, which is tricky because they always want to roll the wrong way.
And to make life even easier during the holidays ask the butcher to take the casing off for you if he doesn’t have loose sausage. He’ll do the messy work of squeezing out the meat and hand the lump to you in a nice brown paper. It’s not one of my favorite thing–brown paper packages–but it’s nice. Then you take it home and throw the whole lump into the sauce pan, mash, and brown. It couldn’t be easier.
And be glad if you have left overs. I heated up a slice of it last night for dinner in the microwave with a generous dash of Tabasco sauce and it was superb.
Spicy Breakfast Casserole (Adapted from SAVEUR)
1 tsp butter
2 lbs loose fresh spicy Italian pork sausage
1-1/2 french baguette cut into 1 inch cylinders
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
3 cups whole milk
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
Tabasco sauce to taste
Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 6″ × 9″ baking dish with butter and set aside.
I was supposed to break the sausage into chunks, but I threw the whole lump of sausage meat into a sauce pan over medium heat and just cut the browning meat into smaller pieces with the edge of a slotted wooden spoon. Cook sausage until browned and cooked through about 10 minutes. Transfer sausage into a medium sized bowl lined with several layers of paper towel to sop up the excess fat.
Cut the baguette into 1-1/2″ discs and place them in a single layer in the prepared baking dish. Scatter sausage meat over the bread cubes and sprinkle the cheese on top.
Lightly whisk eggs together in a large bowl. Add milk, dry mustard, and salt and mix well. Pour custard evenly over sausage mixture in casserole. Bake until golden brown on top, about 30 minutes. Cover with foil to prevent casserole from becoming too brown and continue to bake until center is barely set, about 15 minutes more. Uncover and set aside to let firm up for 20–30 minutes before serving with Tabasco sauce. Or ketchup.