During the holidays, in addition to cooking a big meal, we often need to provide a breakfast for the morning after. I often find that after I have a big meal as on Thanksgiving when I swear I won’t want to eat for days, I wake ravenous! Breakfast casseroles are a great remedy for that morning after hunger. They go together fast, are a great way to utilize leftovers, and you can either assemble them the night before and leave them in the fridge overnight, or get up a bit early to prepare and enjoy some quiet time before everyone starts stirring.
Most bread puddings and other custard-y casseroles are made with your choice of fillings and the standard custard/royale recipe of one quart of milk or cream to 6-8 eggs. This is the same custard ratio you use for quiche, or French toast, or any sweet or savory bread pudding. For a sweet casserole you’d add some sugar and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or ginger. I like adding vanilla or some other flavor extract to add another subtle layer of flavor, lemon or orange zest add some brightness to either sweet or savory dishes.
As someone on a perpetual search for just the right breakfast, this type of dish really fills all my requirements:
- Is it hot √
- Does it involve breakfast meat √
- Are there a variety of textures √
- Are the eggs incorporated with other ingredients √
- Does it satisfy my morning hunger √
Most of the time I’d rather have a savory breakfast than a sweet one, but good French toast, or a French toast bread pudding could easily tempt me. Savory bread puddings and casseroles are a great way to use leftovers, and also get some veggies into those family members who may be a bit veggie-averse. To make a French toast casserole I recommend challah, brioche bread, or some other egg-y bread. Bread can be cubed or torn (if you’ve got some junior assistants this is an excellent task for them). Using the royale mixture above, season the way you like your French toast. I like mine with a teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract, a pinch of nutmeg and lots of cinnamon. If you are going to take the time to make this, please make sure you serve it with real maple syrup!!
These casseroles/puddings use a general template, and you can flavor them any way you like. Make sure you start by buttering the pan well! That royal mix will be plenty for a 9″x 13″ baking dish which will serve 6-8 depending on how hungry everyone is, and what else you’re serving with it. Here is a super easy and satisfying savory bread pudding you can make the night before, and pop into the oven in the morning. It’s got all the ingredients for a full breakfast, just add coffee!
- Brown 4 Italian Sausages (remove casings)
- 8 oz. frozen spinach or kale, defrosted, drained, water squeezed out
- 1 baguette, or bread of your choice
- 8 oz. grated cheese (I like Gruyere, but cheddar or Swiss work fine)
- Royale of 6 eggs and 1 quart of milk or cream
- Salt, pepper, pinch of nutmeg
- Combine everything and bake for one hour