Monday, December 31, 2012

Merry Christmas Casserole

I love traditions. In fact, I don't just love them, I'm very militant about them. Like when we were driving up to my parent's house near Seattle from our Portland home, and Matt mentioned our stockings.

"Wait, did you forget to pack the stockings?" he asked, and I could see them hanging from our fireplace, and the thought crossing my mind--I need to remember to throw those in the suitcase--before forgetting all together.

"Not the stockings!" I cried out, mentally kicking myself in the knees. The same stocking I had woken up with my whole life, which in almost 10 years I had never, ever forgotten to pack, now would spend Christmas morning empty and alone.

If we weren't almost to Kelso, I probably would have turned back.

So when my parents suggested that we eat Christmas breakfast before we opened presents this year, when every other year our breakfast was after, I almost freaked out. This is not how things are done! Everyone pointed out that I'm way too anal retentive. I had no case to argue back.

But the tradition of a new breakfast casserole recipe (though the great Breakfast Enchilada Casserole recipe was so good it stuck around a few years) slowly mitigated my frustration. This year was a recipe from Mom's favorite bakery authority, King Arthur Flour. It's a freaking biscuits, gravy and eggs casserole. How the hell do you get any better than that? (Well, you can see that little bottle of sriracha poking out in the corner of the picture.... and Mom's collection of Fiestaware somehow makes everything taste better). Breakfast was delicious with a new Christmas casserole winner crowned, I actually got the recipe, and all of the presents were just as nice to open while not on an empty stomach. In fact, just maybe I can be convinced to follow the same schedule next year. Now that it's established and all. As long as I have my stocking back.

Perhaps a good new year's resolution would be to try and be less of a control freak. But then I would be less me. And that simply won't do.

Christmas 2012 Sausage Biscuit Breakfast Casserole


6 tablespoons ( 3 oz) cold butter
3 cups (12 oz) unbleached self-rising flour
3/4 to 1 lb bulk breakfast sausage, cooked and drained:  save the fat and don't wash the skillet
3/4 to 1 cup (6-8 oz) cold buttermild or milk


2 tablespoons (1 oz) butter
2 tablespoons ( 1 oz) reserved fat from the sausage above
1 cup (5 1/2 oz) onions ( I had to leave this out due to onion haters in our family)
1/2 (2 1/2 oz) unbleached flour
3 cups (24 oz) milk
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
ground fresh pepper


1 to 2 cups cooked vegetables (optional- suggestions were broccoli, red and green pepper, spinach etc)  
8 large eggs, hard boiled- no more than 10 min, peeled and cut into quarters.
2 cups (8 oz) grated cheese of your choice- pepperjack, cheddar or mixed-divided.

For the biscuits, Cut the butter into the flour until its the size of small peas.  Stir in the cooked sausage.  Add the milk and stir until the dough comes together.  Turn it out onto a floured piece of parchment, pat it into a 1/2" piece with floured hands then cut into 8 to 10 pieces.  Pull the pieces apart so there's an inch of space between them.  ( You're going to crumble the biscuits anyway so no need to cut them.)  Bake for 12 to 14 minutes at 350 until golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool.

For the sauce:  In the same skillet the sausage was cooked in, melt the butter and add back 2 tablespoons of the fat from the cooked sausage.  ( If you don't have enough fat, increase the butter to 1/4 cup).  Add the onions and cook over medium heat stirring to scrape up any flavorful bits on the bottom of the pan.  When the onions are translucent, stir in the flour.  Add the milk 1/4 cup at a time, stirring between the additions until smooth.  When all the milk is in, add the bay leaf, parsley, thyme, sage and several healthy grinds from the peppermill.  Bring the sauce to a low simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 12 min.  

To make the casserole:  Butter a 3 quart casserole.  Break up half the cooked biscuits and spread them evenly in the bottom of the pan.  If you want to add any other vegetables, sprinkle them over the biscuits.  Place the cooked eggs over all next, then pour the sauce on top.  Sprinkle the sauce with the grated cheese ( you can do half the pan with pepperjack and other half with cheddar).  Crumble the remaining biscuits over the top.  

To bake:   If you're making the casserole ahead, cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before baking.  Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 45 min, right from the fridge.  If you're baking right after you assemble the dish, it will be done in 30 min.  Remove from the oven and serve warm.  

Yield 12 servings ( or 5 if its our family) - haha! Note from mom. Love her. Seriously though, you'd have to be some skinny little bird-eaters to stretch out  to 12.

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