I know so many people who prepare what I call the “soggy bread brunch casserole” for every holiday breakfast or brunch. I’m sure you’re familiar with that ubiquitous casserole containing cubes of bread and sausage which are soaked overnight in an egg mixture to make it really soggy, then baked until puffy; it’s been around for years and the recipe is in every church and community cookbook. I’m sure it’s popularity is due to the fact that it’s easy and can be made ahead. That doesn’t mean, however, that it tastes good or that family and guests particularly like it. In fact, if you ask them, they’d probably admit that they’d like a change.
Believe it or not, there are lots of delicious brunch casserole recipes out there that are easy and can be made ahead! The following is not only my family’s favorite, but it has also been the favorite of my students in the brunch classes that I have taught over the past few years. The breakfast meat can be varied according to your tastes; you can use bacon (the precooked, crumbled real bacon works great as a timesaver), sausage, or ham. The grits layer can be prepared up to 3 days ahead, then just before baking, the eggs and half and half are whisked together and poured over the top. The bonus is that this one doesn't contain any soggy bread!
Don’t worry if you don’t like grits; even the grits haters in my classes loved it!
Southern Grits Brunch Bake
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup quick grits
1/2 cup cold butter
1 1/2 cups finely grated sharp cheddar cheese (or use cheddar jack and 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco)
1 pound of your favorite breakfast meat: sausage mild or hot, cooked, crumbled, and drained; bacon, finely chopped, cooked crisp, and drained; or ham, cubed
1/2 cup half and half
1 cup finely grated sharp cheddar cheese or cheddar jack cheese
Grease a 2-quart casserole dish; set aside.
Bring the water to a boil; add the salt and whisk in the grits. Cook 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the grits are smooth and thick. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and cheese; continue stirring until both have melted. Whisk in the 2 eggs. Pour into the prepared casserole dish, smooth the top, and sprinkle the breakfast meat evenly over the top. If you are making this ahead, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Remove from the refrigerator one hour before baking.
Whisk the remaining 4 eggs with the half and half, pour over the bacon and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake at 350° 45-50 minutes or until the cheese on top is lightly browned and the egg layer is set. Serve hot with fresh biscuits.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 337 Calories from Fat 232
Percent Total Calories From:
Fat 69% Protein 17% Carb. 14%
Nutrient Amount per
Total Fat 26 g
Saturated Fat 14 g
Cholesterol 167 mg
Sodium 665 mg
Total Carbohydrate 11 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Sugars 0 g
Protein 15 g
Vitamin A 15% Vitamin C 8% Calcium 0% Iron 5%