Confession: I hate breakfast casseroles. The ones made with frozen hash browns are just a big no, and using bread with eggs – no matter how strong that bread is – generally makes my tongue retract back to my tonsils. However. There are weeks where I prepare more than 100 individual breakfasts. When facing my 100th breakfast, the siren song of a breakfast casserole is almost too much to resist. Mix up a bunch of ingredients, stick it in the fridge overnight – then have a semi-relaxing morning? Yes, please. Many thanks to all of our guests who have joined me as I serve experimental breakfast casseroles to you. Like Arthur in pursuit of the Holy Grail, I thought that I would be forever searching for the golden perfection of a truly delicious and easy breakfast for a crowd that would also save the king and bring fertility back to the land. OK – that might be asking too much of a humble casserole, but a girl can hope.
Then – during my usual obsessive Internet research time (3:00am) – I stumbled upon a blog in which someone made a breakfast casserole with (wait for it) croissants. Hmm. I tried it. I adjusted some stuff. It. Was. Great.
Without further ado:
The absolutely not good for you but super delicious breakfast casserole
Serves @ 6-8 people, depending on how hungry they are
1 pound croissants (about 5 to 7), split in half lengthwise
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more for baking dish
1 pound (one roll thingie) breakfast sausage – I use Jimmy Dean, because I grew up with it (optional)
9 large eggs
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces grated cheese of choice (2 cups – or more, I don’t judge)
1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
You can also add:
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
Diced sautéed bell pepper
Your hopes and dreams – if you’re me
Heat oven to 400-ish degrees (my ovens tend to heat differently every day – so I just wing it). Spread croissants on a large baking sheet and toast, cut side up, toast until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes (watch carefully to see that they do not burn). Let cool, then tear into large bite-size pieces.
In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add sausage meat; cook, breaking up meat with a fork, until mixture is well browned, about 5 minutes. If using other veg – scoop the sausage from the pan and sauté the veggies in the remaining fat. Stir in herbs and hopes, and remove from heat.
In a large bowl, toss together croissants and sausage mixture. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, 1-1/2 cups cheese, salt and pepper.
Lightly oil (or spray with non-stick spray) a 9- x 13-inch baking dish. Turn croissant mixture into pan, spreading it out evenly over the bottom. Pour custard into pan, squishing croissants down gently to absorb the liquid. Cover pan with a sheet of foil (sprayed with cooking spray) and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Much longer and it will be too soggy.
Into the oven –
When you’re ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Don’t uncover the casserole, but place it on a baking sheet and stick it right in. After 30-45 minutes, uncover and scatter the remaining grated cheese over the top of the casserole. Bake until casserole is puffy, golden, and firm to the touch (not jiggly), maybe 15 more minutes. Let stand 10 minutes.
Again – my ovens are wonky. I’d start checking at 30 minutes for sure if you have a non-wonky oven. I also use cake strips (or I rig some) to prevent the outside from cooking too quickly.
I usually serve with fruit or something acidic to cut through the creamy goodness – like apples – and some homemade salsa.
This freezes well. It takes @ 10-15 more minutes to bake if frozen – but just pop it in a NOT preheated oven at 350 degrees and go.