Sausage and cheese. Cayenne pepper and chili powder. Does it get any better? This morning’s contribution to the United Methodist Men’s breakfast was my now-famous sausage casserole. This version is based on someone else’s adaptation of Food Network’s version of Trisha Yearwood’s recipe. For all I know, it could be her grandmother’s. Beats me. All I know is that it was easy to make, tasted great, and didn’t last long this morning.
Perfect for an early morning breakfast when you need to feed a group of 12 adults (or 6 teenagers.) And you assemble it the day before, meaning all you need to do in the morning is put it in the oven and wait!
Prep time: about 30 minutes. Baking time: 1 hour. Serves 12; fewer if people are really hungry.
Bread – I used white wheat. How much do you need? If you stack the slices, you will need a tower about 6-8 inches tall. While you have it stacked up, Trim off the crust. This is optional, but I did it.
Bulk sausage – those big ol’ tubes that you cut the end off and squeeze to get the meat out. At least 1 pound. I used 1.5 pounds today. Spicy, mild, sage-flavored – your choice. I used sage.
Cayenne Pepper & Chili Powder – 1 Tablespoon each.
Cheddar cheese – 12 ounces, shredded. You will need to divide this up: one third / two thirds. It doesn’t need to be exact. Big pile / small pile works, too.
Half & Half – or milk. 2 cups will be fine. If you use milk, try to use whole milk. What? You’re worried about the fat content of the milk? With the cheese and sausage in this recipe, I think we’ve moved past counting calories, people. Enjoy the flavor and start the diet tomorrow!
Eggs – 6 of them. See? How much more damage can using half and half or whole milk do? Go for it.
The night before…
Spray a 9×13 inch casserole pan with cooking spray, or grease it up with some butter.
Cut the bread into bite-sized cubes and evenly distribute them in the casserole pan.
While the bread is drying a bit in the pan, cook the sausage until fully done. Make sure you “crumble” the sausage while it is frying. You want to end up with a pan of sausage bits, not a giant hunk.
Sprinkle the cayenne pepper and chili powder evenly on the bread. Top with one third of your shredded cheddar cheese.
Using a slotted spoon put the cooked sausage on top of the seasoned bread cubes. Top with the remainder of the cheese.
In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs and then whisk in the half and half. Pour this mixture over the entire pan of bread, meat and cheese.
Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. Go watch some television. Have a glass of wine, especially if you are hosting a group of teenagers.
The next morning…
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Did you check the oven to see if anything was inside first? I won’t tell you that story, but I thought now would be good time to mention it.
Put the covered casserole pan in the oven and bake for 1 hour. When the cheese is melted and the edges of the pan look like they may be starting to brown, the casserole is done.
Take the casserole out of the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. It’s plenty hot and will still be in ten minutes. This will give everything inside a chance to reacquaint. More wine, perhaps? Maybe not. Coffee might be a better choice at this point.
Pairs well with fried bacon and scrapple.
As Chef Rudolf would say “Prost, my friend. Happy eating!”