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A Christmas Morning Brunch

2013 December 23


It has been a busy few days and it has only just begun. We are hosting Christmas Eve and Christmas morning at my house and then heading to my parents’ for Christmas dinner (thankfully!). So far, the season has delivered. We found time to take a nice, long walk with our family in the sun yesterday and capped it off with a fun little happy hour. We snuggled up to enjoy our last evening in a quiet house and watched “Love Actually” (any movie that makes Hugh Grant Prime Minister is a winner in my book). I have a long to-do list today but have added a workout to it to keep my mind and body in check. And I am trying to simplify where I can. Like with this recipe. This make-ahead brunch casserole is an easy and delicious way to serve a warm Christmas morning brunch that everyone will love. Here is the recipe from The Kitchn:

“Ham and Cheese” Breakfast Casserole

Serves 4 to 6

4 cups (loosely packed) day-old challah or other egg-enriched bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (buy an extra loaf and make a challah french toast casserole for the sweet set, too)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 pound pancetta (thickly sliced), diced (you can use regular bacon as well)
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese, from about 4 ounces (if gruyère is too strong for your guests, use cheddar instead)

Grease an 8-inch square baking dish (or another 1 1/2 quart to 2-quart baking dish) and spread the cubed challah in the bottom.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a skillet over medium to low heat. Add the onions, salt, and sugar. Sauté until they are lightly caramelized (a medium golden brown color), about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in another heavy skillet, heat the other tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and sauté the pancetta until the fat is almost all rendered and it begins to get crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Set on a paper towel to drain.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, dry mustard, nutmeg, and thyme. Season with about 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a generous quantity of black pepper.

Spread the pancetta over the bread cubes, then layer the onions on top. Sprinkle grated Gruyère on next, and then pour the egg mixture over the entire thing.

Press down on the top gently, so that all of the bread cubes get soaked a bit with the egg mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 350°F and take the casserole out of the fridge while the oven is preheating. Bake, uncovered, for 35 to 50 minutes, or until the edges are bubbling and the top begins to brown. The baking time will be greatly dependent on the depth of dish you use. Check the interior with a knife; if it comes out clean the bread custard is baked through. (Cover with foil near the end of cooking if the top is already browned.)

I will serve it alongside some fresh berries and maybe a simple green salad – and of course, mimosas!

*recipe and photo from The Kitchn*

PS – if you follow me on Facebook, you’ve seen this, but if not, it’s worth checking out. 20 Things to Let Go of Before the New Year.

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