Today's hearty recipe for Italian Sausage and Mushroom Breakfast Casserole comes from The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook by Alexe van Beuren and Dixie Grimes. Van Beuren's story of unexpected Main Street revival in her town of Water Valley, Mississippi, is captivating, and our cooking columnist calls Grimes' collection of Southern recipes, "Creative comfort at its best."
Italian Sausage and Mushroom Breakfast Casserole
Reasons to make a breakfast casserole: Your in-laws are in town, and you need to spend the early morning vacuuming. High school boys are spending the night, and it’s better to serve them something contained rather than getting roped into standing next to the stove for a solid hour making pancakes to order. Someone needs sustenance in the way of food and the whole neighborhood knows it, which means the recipients of largesse might have 18 lasagnas and nothing for breakfast.
This particular casserole is savory enough for dinner, but the eggs make it breakfasty. Teenage boy approved.
- ½ pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 small fennel bulb, chopped (½ cup)
- 1 cup sliced white mushrooms
- 8 eggs
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon dry vermouth
- ½ teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 12 slices white bread, crusts removed, cubed
- 2 cups grated sharp white Cheddar cheese
Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 × 13-inch baking dish with butter. In a skillet set over medium heat, cook the sausage, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon, until browned throughout—10 to 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Discard all but 1½ tablespoons of the grease in the pan. Add the fennel and mushrooms and cook, stirring, until the fennel is soft, 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, vermouth, oregano, nutmeg, salt and pepper. In the bottom of the prepared baking dish, spread half of the bread, and top with half of the cooked sausage, half of the fennel mixture, and half of the grated cheese; repeat the layers with the remaining ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the plastic from the dish and bake until the casserole is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Excerpted from The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook by Alexe van Beuren and Dixie Grimes. Copyright © 2014 by Alexe van Beuren. Photographs by Ed Anderson. Excerpted by permission of Clarkson Potter Publishers, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Read our review of this book.