Cheesy Egg Bake: The French Girl's Breakfast Casserole

/ Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sometimes it's best to reserve the perfectly poached egg and bellini for a brunch out with the girls. Weekend breakfasts at home can be rustic and lazy, far from the eyes of the bruchers of the Upper East Side. Thanks to the French Culinary Institute, three tremendous broiche were sitting on my counter waiting to be eaten early Saturday morning. I was all too happy to oblige one of them. This twist on an American breakfast casserole is a Frenchy at heart with golden pillows of brioche, stinky cheese (go with the gruyere!) and fresh thyme. Prepare it a night in advance so your breakfast guest will think your brunch skills are as effortless as a French girl's style :) Bon appetite!

Cheesy Egg Breakfast Bake
6 strips apple-wood smoked bacon
1 to 1 1/2 pounds spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
6 large eggs

3 cups milk
1 teaspoon ground mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large braided brioche or challah bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar or gruyere cheese
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese

1. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate; reserve the skillet with the bacon fat.
2. Add the sausage to the reserved skillet and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until cooked through; drain on paper towels.
3. Whisk the eggs, milk, ground mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. Stir in the brioche cubes, thyme, grated cheddar and the cooked bacon and sausage.
4. Pour the mixture into a lightly buttered baking dish and bake until the custard has set, 30 to 40 minutes.

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