Let’s talk breakfast. Not a soggy bowl of bran flakes or a stale bagel as you’re running out the door. Breakfast. As in, weekend breakfast. My daughter, Emily, loves pancakes — she rarely deviates from ordering a short stack if we’re having breakfast out. Scott, can go sweet or savory — but invariably there’s a meat component on his plate (bacon, sausage, hash etc.). I gravitate toward egg dishes, though if I’m sitting within arms length of Emily’s pancakes, I will sneak a bite or two.
Which brings me to this recipe — it’s an idea that’s been percolating for a while. I wanted something sweet and savory to satisfy everyone’s breakfast wants without the skill set of a short-order cook.
And because I have no desire to slave over a hot stove at the break of dawn, it needed to be a make-ahead dish that would bake while we were sipping our coffee and reading the paper (or catching up on the latest Facebook feed).
The inspiration for this breakfast fare comes from our standard holiday dressing recipe — which, aside from day old bread, includes sausage, apples and cranberries. Hmmm. What if stuffing and bread pudding had a love child? It’s sick the way my mind works!
My first attempt was good, but we all felt it needed something else. Maybe some herbs, and definitely more texture — a little crunch! After some thought, I settled on a cheddar-pecan streusel and added savory sage to both the bread pudding and the streusel. OMG!!!
You must make this at least once this season! Serve with warm maple syrup, hot coffee and cold mimosas. Let the weekend begin!
Sausage Apple Strata with Cheddar-Pecan Streusel
For bread pudding
- 1 lb breakfast sausage such as Jimmy Dean
- 1 large white onion chopped
- 4 apples peeled, cored, seeded and diced
- 1 cup cranberries
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage finely chopped
- 4-5 cups day old french bread crusts removed, cut in one-inch cubes
- 1 cup white cheddar cheese grated
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup butter chilled, diced
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup white cheddar shredded
- 1 cup pecans chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage finely chopped
- In a large skillet over medium high heat, brown the sausage, breaking it up into small bits with the back of a fork. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add apples, sage, and both types of cranberries. Cook for an additional 5-6 minutes or until the apples start to soften and the fresh cranberries start to burst.
- Drain sausage mixture in a colander to remove excess fat. Set aside.
- Place bread in a large bowl. Add sausage mixture and toss to combine. Add cheese and combine.
- In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, brown sugar and cinnamon. Whisk together. Set aside.
Make the streusel
- In a small bowl combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and butter. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined. Mixture should be crumbly, but hold together if you squeeze firmly with your hand.
- Add the cheese, pecans and sage and mix together.
Assemble the casserole
- Spray a large casserole dish with vegetable spray. Add the sausage mixture. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the sausage. Spread the streusel evenly on the top of the sausage mixture. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cover the casserole with tin foil and place in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue cooking for an additional 30-45 minutes or until set. Allow bread pudding to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
- Serve with maple syrup on the side.
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