In its simplest form, a breakfast casserole consists of day-old bread soaked in custard (eggs and cream) and then baked until golden and fluffy. Often there’s sausage and cheese mixed in, too.
Element of Distress
The finished dish is so rich you have to let out your belt before breakfast even begins. This casserole should instead be lighter and much, much tastier. The custard usually obliterates the other flavors, and you can barely taste the sausage and cheese—they add heaviness but not much else.
Line of Attack
We’d lighten up the custard using milk instead of cream, and we’d bump up the experience by using more flavorful meats, cheeses, and a secret (frozen) ingredient.
The traditional recipe was two or three cups of cream too much. No one missed the overdose of overdose after we subbed in whole milk (low-fat worked, too) for all the cream in the custard. Arteries, you still with us? Good.
The kitchen tasters had the onerous, ruthless task of figuring out the most flavorful meat and cheese combinations to use for the baked casserole—just kidding, it was great—and maple sausage (with a light sweetness) and cheddar got the thumbs up. A little bit of real maple syrup drizzled in popped the flavors even more. Blandness was toast.
Or… was it waffle? We discovered a great thing while testing different types of bread to use in the casserole (ciabatta, brioche, French bread, you name it). The best of the lot ended up being a serendipitous find in the freezer aisle: frozen waffles! Their airy, fluffy texture made the casserole much lighter than challah or even sandwich bread.
Finally, a breakfast casserole that doesn’t require sweatpants to eat—but that certainly won’t stop us from doing so anyway. (Coffee?)