Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sausage & Egg Casserole w Apple Cider Braised Bacon

This is what I made for my family visiting from out of town on Christmas morning.  It is rich and decadent; perfect for a special occasion.  It does take a bit of time to prepare so I don't imagine you would want to make this on a Monday morning (but perhaps I'm wrong).  But it is an impressive breakfast for company or just a relaxing weekend morning at home.  This recipe makes a large 9x13" casserole and my family ate the entire thing Christmas morning... some going back for second and third helpings.  The bacon, well, let's face it:  It tastes like candy.  That didn't' last past the first serving.  I served the whole thing with a large bowl of fresh cut pineapple and freshly brewed coffee.  The perfect celebration meal.  Enjoy!

My favorite breakfast
Egg Casserole Ingredients:
(Total Time to Make: about 45 minutes)
2lb Italian sausage (I used my favorite "healthy" sausage: Trader Joe's Tomato Basil Chicken Sausage with No Antibiotics No Preservatives and No Nitrates:  See this post for a picture)
1 yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2tsp butter or oil
1/2c oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
6 large eggs, preferably organic or omega-3 enriched
3 large egg yolks
1c heavy whipping cream (omit if you are sensitive to cream or butter)
1/2tsp salt

Apple Cider Braised Bacon Ingredients:
(Total Time to Make: about 2 hours)
1lb package bacon (I buy Preservative and Nitrate free Oscer Myer Uncured Bacon at Walmart or the Commissary)
1c apple cider
2tbs pure maple syrup

1. First get that bacon started.  It has to braise in the oven for over an hour.  Preheat your oven to 325F.  Place bacon on an 8" square baking dish covered with nonstick foil (for easier cleanup).  Then bring cider and maple syrup to a boil in a saucepan over medium high heat.  Pour over bacon, cover with foil, and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes.  Turn the bacon over and bake another 45 minutes.  Remove foil, and let bacon cool in liquid.
2. To finish bacon, drain the liquid back into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Boil until the liquid is reduced to a glaze (about 1/3c).  Toss bacon in the glaze gently and cook in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until deep brown and caramelize (about 3-5 minutes per side).  The bacon will tear easily but don't worry about it.  No one will care much.  It's that delicious.
3. While your bacon is braising in the oven but just about done, make your casserole.  First, heat a large skillet over medium high heat with a bit of butter or oil.  Add garlic and onion and saute, stirring frequently, until onion is soft. 
4. Then squeeze the meat out of the sausage casings into the pan.  Cook, breaking up the meat with a spatula or wooden spoon, until all of the sausage is brown.  Add the chopped sun dried tomatoes and cook a bit more (maybe 3 more minutes to get everything incorporated).
5. Pour the sausage mixture into the bottom of a 9x13" glass casserole dish.  Spread evenly along the bottom.  Preheat your oven to 375F.
6. In a large bowl, beat 6 eggs plus 3 egg yolks.  Whisk in heavy cream and salt.  Pour the egg mixture over the sausage casserole evenly.  Place in the center of a preheated oven and bake until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20-30 minutes.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
7. Serve the sausage egg casserole with cider braised bacon, some fruit, and coffee or tea.  Enjoy!

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