I can get very excited about a big breakfast casserole. Who wouldn’t when the toast, eggs, ham, and cheese are all in one place? This recipe is my time-tested version with peppers and onions added for good measure. Because you can put it together the night before, you barely need to open your eyes before popping it in the oven.
Butter for coating pan
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 medium yellow bell pepper, finely chopped (3/4 cup)
1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped (3/4 cup)
1 8-ounce loaf hearty French or Italian bread, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 6-ounce slab thick-cut ham, finely chopped
6 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
5 extra-large eggs
1 3/4 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Butter an 8-inch oval or round baking dish.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and the pinch salt; cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the yellow and red peppers; cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally.
Cover the bottom of the prepared pan with half of the bread slices, cutting pieces as necessary to make a snug fit. Top the bread with half of the onion mixture, then half of the ham and half of the cheese. Repeat the layers, starting with the bread and ending with the cheese.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, the 3/4 teaspoon salt, and the black pepper; pour evenly over the casserole. (The egg mixture should come almost to the top of the pan.) Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Let the casserole come to room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake about 45 minutes or until top is golden and puffy and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
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