The world is full of brilliant people.
Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Sir Issac Newton, Wendell Berry, Edith Wharton, and Stephen Sondheim are a small sampling of the famous names I feel should be included on any list of brilliant individuals.
But what about the not-so-famous brilliant people? The unsung heroes whose contributions, large and small, make the world better? For example, the person who invented the breakfast casserole?
Scoff if you will but, in my opinion, the brilliance of whoever came up with the idea of a hearty and delicious breakfast that can feed a crowd, be prepared the night before, and simply popped in the oven the next morning, borders on genius. They’re so good and they make entertaining so much easier.
While somebody must have started the breakfast casserole ball rolling, at this point I think it’s a dish that has definitely become crowd sourced. Everybody has their own take on breakfast casseroles. Some are savory, some are sweet, some are healthy, some throw health under the bus and go for full on indulgence. If you question my dedication to a breakfast casserole, check out this one a previous post with two breakfast casserole’s and one quiche for evidence of my historical obsession.
Breakfast Casserole, A Gift To My Guests
That’s what’s so great about breakfast casseroles; you really can choose your own adventure here. And breakfast casseroles are so flexible and hard to mess up. As long as you’ve got some good bread, enough eggs, and don’t burn the dish, it’s pretty hard to go wrong.
If you ever come to my house for an overnight visit, there’s a better than fifty-fifty chance that I’ll serve you some form of breakfast casserole while you’re with me. And unless you’ve forewarned me that you’re on a diet or under doctor’s orders, chances are also good that I’ll be serving you a casserole that falls squarely into the indulgent category.
In my book, having guests in a house is cause for celebration. So I like the menu to reflect that and spoil my guests with something special and memorable. That’s what I set out to do last weekend, when two of my quilting-connected girlfriends came for a visit.
Breakfast Casserole: My Monte Cristo Edition
My Monte Cristo Breakfast Casserole was all I had hoped for and more! In other words, it was easy to make ahead, utterly indulgent, and as pretty as it was delicious! The smoky, savory ham and gooey cheese are beautifully balanced by the sweetness of the raspberry jam and pretty sprinkle of powdered sugar. (I like to offer a little syrup on the side, for those who want it even sweeter.)
We had to do a lot of walking to work off this stick-to-your-ribs breakfast but it was worth every single step. Besides, when you’ve got good friends in residence, the only thing better than sharing a good meal together is sharing a long walk and gab fest afterward, yes?
So give my Monte Cristo Breakfast Casserole a try the next time you’ve got guests. It’s sure to impress and it’s delicious served hot or cold, which makes it a great choice if you need to bring a dish to a potluck. With the holidays coming, we could all use more make ahead and take along recipes. But wherever and however you serve it, Monte Cristo Breakfast Casserole is a recipe that turns any meal into a festive occasion!Print
8 slices white bread, toasted and cut into 1-inch cubes
¾ lb uncured, brown sugar ham, medium diced
1 c Swiss cheese, shredded
1 1/2 c Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 tsp kosher salt
2/3 c ricotta cheese
1/4 c honey mustard
8 large eggs
1 c whole milk
1/3 c raspberry jam
Maple syrup (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9X13 baking dish with nonstick spray.
- In a large bowl, combine eggs, ricotta, mustard, whole milk, and salt. Whisk until yolks, egg whites, and other ingredients are fully combined.
- In the same bowl, add bread cubes, diced ham, shredded Swiss cheese, and only ½ cup gruyere. Gently mix with your hands or a wooden spoon until combined, then transfer to a greased baking dish. Smooth the top so that the bread is in an even layer, then cover the top with the remaining 1 cup of gruyere cheese. (If you’re preparing ahead of time, cover the pan with foil and put in the refrigerator up to twelve hours before you plan to serve, then move on to Step 4.)
- Place the dish in the center of the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes or until the center is set and no longer wiggly, and the cheese is browned and golden.
- When casserole is done, remove from the oven and allow it to cool for about 10-15 minutes.
- Enjoy this casserole with a sprinkle with powdered sugar, a dollop of jam, and a drizzle of maple syrup.