Here is a down and dirty, quick and easy, perfect for company breakfast casserole. This is exactly the kind of recipe I keep on hand for those mornings when I really need my coffee to get moving and the rest of the family is raring to go.
Don’t you just love breakfast? I can eat it all day long, but it seems the best on weekend mornings when you can relax over a special meal. I love finding recipes that are warming and filling, that can be made ahead and don’t take a lot of last minute work. The original version of today’s recipe came from Bon Appetit magazine and I have adapted it to reduce some of the calories while maintaining the creamy texture and depth of flavor. This way we can eat more of it without feeling guilty.
Made with ingredients you probably have in your pantry and freezer, it doesn’t get much easier than this. Cook up some sausage and vegetables then layer them with frozen hash brown potatoes and cheese. Pop it in the oven and that’s it!
It has a surprising soufflé-like texture that is creamy and rich. You will swear there are eggs in it, but there aren’t! It is equally good for breakfast, brunch, and lunch. I especially like it warmed up the next day.
If you’re feeling adventuresome, try some of these variations:
Mexican: Add cumin, a little ancho chile powder and minced jalapenos to the sausage mixture. Increase the minced green chiles and double the oregano.
Greek: Replace the cheddar with Feta and double the oregano. Add some lemon pepper. Use ground lamb in place of half or all of the pork.
Moroccan: Leave out the oregano and chiles. Add 1 to 2 tsp tandoori or harissa seasoning to the sausage and add a clove of minced garlic. Replace 2 tbsp of the milk with plain yogurt. Replace the cheddar with Pecorino or other sheep’s milk cheese
French: Add some chopped artichoke hearts and tarragon instead of the oregano. Replace the cheddar with Brie cheese (remove the rind before using) or Munster.
If you want to make this a little fancier for a brunch or luncheon, you can make individual “quiches” by layering the ingredients in muffin tins and baking them off. Then you can serve two per person and they are adorable!
The next time you want an easy, no-fuss breakfast dish, pull out this recipe and have at it. Make it simple or add your own personal touches. Your family will thank you and you can relax in peace at the breakfast table!
Have a wonderful Festive Friday, enjoy your weekend, and I will see you back here for Chocolate Monday!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
If you are following a gluten-free diet or are cooking for someone with dietary restrictions, you can use these worry-free varieties of Ore-Ida® Potatoes in this casserole: Country Style Hash Browns; Country Inn Creations Hash Browns, Pepper & Onion; Southern Style Hash Browns (cubed); Country Inn Creations Hash Browns, Savory Seasoned; Potatoes O’Brien, Onion Tater Tots®; or Mini Tater Tots®.
Kitchen Skill: Working with Raw Sausage
Sausage can come in patties, links, and bulk. You can use any of them for this recipe as long as they have not already been cooked. If you are working with links, slice the casing down the length of the sausage and peel back. Discard the casing and crumble the raw sausage.
As always, when working with raw meats, make sure you wash your hands, cutting board, knife, and any surfaces that came in contact with the meat with hot soapy water. Be careful of cross-contamination and never use the same knife to cut raw and cooked meat without washing in between uses.
Creamy Sausage and Hash Brown Casserole
Adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
1-1/2 lb Italian pork bulk sausage, crumbled or cooked ham, cubed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free all-purpose blend
3 cups low-fat evaporated milk (Not sweetened condensed) or half-and-half
2 tsp dried oregano
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 red or orange bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped mild green chiles, optional
Organic olive oil
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
2 lb frozen shredded hash brown potatoes (do not thaw)
2 green onions finely chopped, divided
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking dish. Set aside.
Prepare Sausage: Cook sausage in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until brown, crumbling into small pieces, about 5 minutes. Mix in flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Stir in milk. Cook until mixture thickens and comes to a boil, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Stir in oregano. Remove from heat and set aside.
If you are using ham instead of sausage, make the white sauce with 1/4 cup butter or olive oil and flour as directed above, cooking about 2 minutes or until the raw flour smell and taste has dissipated. Slowly stir in milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Stir in oregano and add ham. Cook, stirring, until ham is heated through and sauce is thick and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In another skillet, sauté onions, bell peppers, and chiles (if using) in 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat, about 3 minutes or until onion is softened. Set aside.
Mix cheeses together in a bowl.
Spread half of frozen potatoes in prepared dish. Top with half of sausage or ham mixture, half of sauteed vegetables, half of the cheese mixture, and half of green onions. Repeat with remaining potatoes, sausage/ham, vegetables, and cheese.
Bake casserole until potatoes are tender and hot all the way through, about 45 to 60 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining green onions and serve.
If you are cooking this in muffin tins, butter each one and layer the ingredients into tins, top with a little cheese and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until puffed and golden on top. Check to see that the potatoes are hot all the way through (stick a knife in the center and pull it out – if it is cool to the touch, put them back in the oven). Let them cool for about 4 minutes in the tins before popping them out and serving.
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