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. This is one of those recipes. The original 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, LOL!
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. That’s it! It has a surprising souffle-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.
Serve this with some of my Pecan Coffee Cake and a fresh fruit salad. Everyone will be happy and ready for a day full of adventure!
If you’re feeling adventuresome, try some of these variations:
Mexican: Add 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp ancho chile powder and some minced jalapenos. Increase the minced green chiles and the oregano.
Greek: Replace the cheddar with Feta and increase 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.
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
You can make this with cubed frozen hash browns, but it isn’t nearly as creamy and smooth. I have tried both the cubed and shredded versions and I definitely prefer them shredded. Potatoes O’Brien would be a fun change of pace. If all you have is tater tots, you could crumble them too!
Kitchen Skill: Working with Raw Sausage
There are different types of sausage, many you already know and some you may not. 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.
Sausage and Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole
Jane Evans Bonacci, adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
1-1/2 lb cooked ham, cubed or Italian pork bulk sausage, crumbled
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups low-fat evaporated milk (Not sweetened condensed!)
2 tsp dried oregano
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small red or orange bell pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tsp chopped mild green chiles, optional
1 tsp olive oil
1-1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1-1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
2 lb frozen shredded (not cubed) hash brown potatoes (do not thaw)
2 green onions finely chopped, divided
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9x13x2-inch baking dish. Set aside.
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.
In another skillet, saute onions, bell peppers, and chiles if using in 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 mixture, half of the cheese mixture, and half of green onions. Repeat with remaining potatoes, sausage, and cheese. Do not use rest of green onions until casserole is finished baking.
Bake casserole until potatoes are tender and hot all the way through, about 45 to 60 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining green onions and serve.
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