Christmas Breakfast

Since my kids were born, my parents come over to my place for Christmas.  After we moved closer to them, we’ve split the hosting duties — morning (with the tree and presents, and breakfast) at my place, then we all go to their place for dinner.

Because we’re having a big dinner, and usually a relatively early one, we’ve found it works best to have brunch after the presents are done that will keep us satisfied until dinner.  When I was a kid this usually meant pancakes or the like, with some snacking on a cracker and cheese plate through the day.

This clearly isn’t going to work in someone aiming for a primal lifestyle, or even a low-carb diet, so in the last few years it’s shifted more to some sort of egg dish.  Omelettes are fairly straightforward, and there are a few variations that are more convenient to cook (such as Denvers — chop the other ingredients smaller and mix directly with the egg before cooking), but I wanted something different this year.

I’m not entirely sure what this is called, or what it will be called, but I think it’ll happen in my house again.  It was pretty good.

Ingredients

  • 6 dinner sausages, precooked
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 3/4 cup white onion, chopped
  • 6 large brown mushrooms, chopped
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 slices thick-cut side bacon, precooked
  • 1.5 cups cheddar, grated

Directions

The directions look fairly long, but it’s really simple.  I commented more than usual in them.

  • Cut the sausage  into 1/4″ slices and put in a medium-hot pan to fry for a while.  This will release some fat from the meat, which will make for a ‘crispier’ sausage meat, increase the flavor of the meat, and provide fat for the next part.  When satisfied with the frying, remove the sausage from the pan but leave a small amount of the fat.
  • Put all the vegetables in the pan to saute for a while, stirring and turning as needed.  This will ensure the vegetables are cooked when the dish is assembled, and will release a fair bit of water from them.  This is important if you want to avoid a soggy dish
  • Stir the sausage pieces back into the vegetables in the pan so they’ll be evenly distributed through the dish when assembled.
  • Beat the eggs and water together.  Normally I might pepper the eggs, but this time I used sausage spicy enough it wasn’t needed.  Beat until there are, as said at eatthecookie, “no egg boogies”.
  • Mix about half the cheese into the eggs.
  • Mix the vegetables and sausages into the eggs (not the other way — pour the egg into the pan and you’ll have a big fried egg dish instead, though that might be okay too).
  • Pour the entire thing into a greased casserole dish.  This time I used some of the bacon fat from last night, but butter, coconut oil, olive oil or the like will work fine.  You’ll probably want a fairly neutral flavored oil.
  • Chop the bacon and sprinkle over the top of the egg, then spread the remainder of the grated cheese over the entire mix.
  • Bake in a 350F over for about half an hour, so the egg will set.

This was cut into eight pieces and it served six — four adults, one teenager (first one up for seconds, and the only one who managed a second piece by himself), and one older child — pretty handily, even as a late breakfast.

Variations

Too many to easily count, really.  Change the meats, change the vegetables, change the spices, change the proportions of ingredients to taste.  Lots of changes possible with the cheese, including different kinds of cheese, multiple cheeses, or dropping the cheese entirely.  Paleo and primal discourage the use of dairy products, so feel free to drop them — I would have, but it really suits the dish and I wanted it.  1/4 cup of grated cheddar really isn’t that much and it added significantly to the dish.

Notes on the Meat

Breakfast sausages are too small for what I did here, though they would work if you had more of them.  These were proper sized sausages, and this time I used a variety marked at my local store as ‘New Orleans-style’ sausages.  Mildly spicy when first cooked, but after recooking and dried out slightly the spice was enhanced.  Not as strong as chorizo, which would’ve been stronger than I wanted, but a good fit for this dish.

The bacon was also picked up at the butcher counter at my local store.  Smokier flavor than I usually favor, and cut about twice as thick as I usually find in packaged bacon, but nice to work with.

I’d cooked the meats last night so they’d be ready for this morning.  The bacon was baked in a 250F oven for about 90 minutes, the sausages for about 2.5 hours (I had three overlapping batches of bacon).  Baking the bacon gave me rendered bacon fat (salty lard, really) that I can use in other cooking later, without the burned crunchy bits.  I don’t mind crunchy bits, but burned sets the flavor off.

Observations

Thanks to precooking the meat, this morning’s cooking was little more than simple assembly.  I could have prepped the vegetables ahead of time, but it gave me something to do while recooking the sausage.  This was a good dish for brunch — easy to assemble when company was here, tasty, and quite satisfying.

I don’t know that leftovers would keep very well, but since we finished the entire thing it wasn’t an issue.

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