Sunday, April 15, 2012

Breakfast Casserole

Slice of the finished product
Or, Clean-Out-the-Refrigerator Casserole, to be more precise. But it's more breakfast-y than lunch-y, as it's held together with an egg-and-milk custard base. We're going to just go with that.

I don't know about you, but whenever people visit me, I tend to have a full refrigerator. Just in case. What if they're yogurt people? Or maybe they hate yogurt and want pancakes instead? If I'm not sure, and sometimes even then, I will stock up on a little of everything. Which is fine, until we eat out most of the visit and I'm left with a hundred small things slowly going to waste.

If you're anything like me, you might want a recipe like this in your back pocket. It's pretty simple. I'll tell you what I had on hand, but you can use nearly anything that sounds like it might taste good together. With a solid egg base and a little overnight soak in the fridge, your breakfast casserole may turn out to be more of a weekly staple than you might expect. Especially during farmers market season...

Okay, what I had on hand were leftover potato wedges, a handful of corn, raw asparagus and chives, grated cheddar from taco night, previously-fried veggie sausage and two hamburger buns. You could bake this right away, of course, but the bread benefits most from an overnight soaking, turning into a soft extension of the custard. It's like a savory version of baked french toast. And you don't need to have any of the stuff I used. As long as you have the custard ingredients, just fill your pie dish with about 2 cups of chopped veggies topped with 2 cups equivalent of bread, and you'll be golden.

All layered together and ready to soak overnight

Breakfast Casserole

Makes one deep pie dish full, six big wedges

4 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup grated cheese, any kind (I used cheddar)

Optional ingredients:
1 cup of baked potato wedges, chopped into 1/2" pieces
1/2 cup corn kernels
6 stalks of asparagus, trimmed and sliced
a handful of chives, chopped
3 veggie breakfast sausages
2 seeded hamburger buns

Butter or spray a deep dish pie baker.

Chop your veggie (and veggie meat) ingredients and layer them in the bottom of your baker. Cover with half of the grated cheese. Slice the bread that you're using into 1/2" thick wedges and arrange them over the top of your veggies, squeezing them in so they all fit in a single layer.

Whisk the eggs, milk and cream together briskly until combined and slightly frothy. Add a big pinch of salt and some pepper, if you like. I do. Slowly pour the egg mixture over the bread. Press the bread down slightly, making sure it's all covered in eggy goodness. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, set your oven to 350ยบ but don't bother waiting for it to preheat. Toss in the casserole dish right away and set a timer for 45 minutes. (Depending on how watery your vegetable layers are, it may take more time to bake. Mine were pretty dry.) If the bread on top is golden brown and the entire casserole is puffed up, it's probably done, even if there's a small indentation at the center. Check the casserole by poking a knife into the center. You don't want any runny egg juice to foam up, but the knife won't be dry like you've made a cake. If yours isn't done, keep baking in 10 minute increments until the loose eggs are cooked.

Baked, after an overnight soak in the fridge
Let the finished casserole sit for about 10 minutes, if you possibly can. It will cooperate better while you're slicing it up, even though it deflates a bit. I didn't wait. Which is why my slice had three pieces to it and my husband's, 15 minutes later, came out perfectly triangular. Whatever. Still tasted good.

If you are more patient than I am, or you have more time, or you're serving this up for a crowd, it goes well with a green salad, dressed with something tart, like a lemon vinaigrette. Yep, that would have been a good addition to today's breakfast, if only I'd had some leftover lettuce.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails