Bake

Breakfast Casserole

October 20, 2020
2 Ratings
Photo by ROCKY LUTEN. FOOD STYLIST: ANNA BILLINGSKOG. PROP STYLIST: GERRI WILLIAMS.
Author Notes

You’ve heard of breakfast for dinner, but have you met dinner for breakfast? If not, allow me to formally introduce you to a morning-friendly dish that’s got the structure and heartiness of a proper casserole, with your favorite parts of breakfast. Also known as the “breakfast casserole,” it has the stature of a lasagna with the fillings of an omelet. In other words, you’re going to love it.

The breakfast casserole is more of a concept than it is a mandate. Feel free to swap the sweet Italian sausage crumbles with something spicier (such as chorizo), or a chicken-apple variety. Or, skip the sausage and replace it with the same amount of crisped bacon pieces, or browned, bite-sized mushrooms. Leave out the jalapeño if you please, or double down for extra heat. Use yellow onion in place of shallot, if that’s what you’ve got on hand. Riff on the herby crème fraîche to your heart’s delight—say, call in Greek yogurt, sour cream, or labneh instead—or skip it entirely if it’s not your style.

Another delightful feature of the breakfast casserole: You can do most of the work in advance. Simply refrigerate the unbaked casserole, covered, for up to 24 hours, then let it come to room temperature, and proceed with the recipe. —Ella Quittner

  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 8
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil (like avocado oil or vegetable oil), plus more to grease pan
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, uncased
  • 1 1/3 cups minced shallot (from about 2 large or 3 medium shallots)
  • 1 jalapeño, minced (optional)
  • 1 1/3 chopped scallions, green and white parts divided
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed (I use Morton; you can scale up to 1 3/4 or 2 teaspoons if you use Diamond Crystal)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 2 cups shredded melty cheese (such as cheddar, Gouda, or Monterey Jack), divided
  • 1 (30-ounce) bag frozen shredded hash browns (unthawed), divided
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • Sriracha, chile-garlic sauce, or another thick hot sauce for serving
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the sausage and thoroughly brown sausage, crumbling into bite-sized pieces as it cooks. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside, discarding all but 1 tablespoon or so of rendered fat.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the shallot. Sauté for 4 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until translucent and beginning to brown around the edges. Add the jalapeño (if using), as well as the scallions’ white parts and all but 2 tablespoons of the green parts. Sauté another couple of minutes until the scallions’ white parts have softened enough that you could easily break them into rings with a cooking utensil. (Don’t bother doing this—just use it as a check.) Add 2 tablespoons of water, and scrape up all the browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan as the water evaporates.
  3. Remove the skillet from heat and set aside, allowing it to cool while you heat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9x13-inch pan with oil. Mince the remaining 2 tablespoons of scallion greens and mix those, as well as the chives, basil, and a pinch of salt, into the crème fraîche, and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, gently whisk the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and 1 cup of the shredded cheese. And roughly two-thirds of the frozen hash browns, the sautéed shallot mixture, and the browned sausage, and stir to combine. Pour into the prepared pan, cover with foil, and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the casserole has set and the center feels firm to the touch, with a little wiggle. Let the remaining hash browns thaw while it cooks, and pour off any liquid.
  5. Turn on broiler to preheat while you remove the foil from the pan and sprinkle remaining hash browns and cheese over the top, along with a few pinches of salt and pepper. Put the pan on top of a cookie sheet to catch any bubbling cheese—so it doesn’t end up on your oven floor—and place under the broiler, keeping a close eye to avoid burning. Broil for 3 to 7 minutes, until the top is crispy and browned. Remove from the oven. Run a knife around the inside edge of the pan before slicing and serving. Serve individual portions topped with dollops of herby crème fraîche and hot sauce.

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Ella Quittner is a contributing writer and the Absolute Best Tests columnist at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.