Sunday, October 25, 2009

Meggsican Breakfast Magic

We haven't yet gone grocery shopping for the week, so our supplies are running a bit low. (If I was completely honest, I would tell you that we have a pantry stocked so full it could support us for several weeks if need be.) Last week was very hectic with the Senior Chefs both traveling for work...

Wow! Without ruining the surprise...I have to admit that I just checked on breakfast in the oven...very, very exciting! (More about that in a moment).

Consequently, we didn't make very many meals at home. That left us with a surplus of OPO produce and other farmer's market goodies. In reviewing the situation, I pulled a bag of chili peppers from the vegetable drawer along with a carton of eggs. This sparked an idea for a breakfast casserole.

The Method
First, bear in mind that this is a dish intended to use up items in the fridge and pantry. I began with the basics. An egg-based casserole benefits from a starch of some variety as an ingredient (i.e., frittata) or base (think quiche). I opted for oatbran bread. Also, I wanted to use the bag o'peppers, and remembered our recent success with roasted green chiles. So, I flipped on the broiler.
  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Place several green chiles (including one anaheim pepper) on a baking sheet and roast. Turn as the peppers blacken. Total roasting time was about 10-12 minutes.
  3. Remove chiles to a ziploc and place in the fridge. (Thanks, Ellen, for this suggestion.)
  4. Meanwhile, cook 5-6 slices of bacon. (Okay, we cooked an entire pound...ate a few slices in the process; but only 5-6 made it into the casserole.)
  5. Grate a stick of "seriously" sharp cheddar cheese - about 2 C
  6. Butter 5-6 slices of good bread and place butter-side down in a 9x13 baking dish.
  7. Prepare an egg mixture:
    • 6-7 eggs beaten
    • 1 C skim milk
    • 1/2 C half-and-half (because you ran out of milk)
    • 1/2 C water (because you didn't have enough milk or cream)
    • 1/2 C ricotta (leftover and lonely in the fridge)
    • 1 TB oregano
    • 1/2 onion chopped
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • 1 tsp garlic powder (because you ran out of fresh garlic)
    • Salt and pepper
  8. Peel and chop the chiles. Spread onto the bread.
  9. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the chiles.
  10. Add a layer of bacon slices and tomatoes.
  11. Pour the egg mixture into the pan.
  12. Cover with a final layer of cheese.
  13. Allow to rest in the fridge. (Optimally, you would leave this overnight, but it was already 9:30 a.m. so we decided 15 minutes was sufficient.)
  14. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes.
The Result
Clearly, this is BRUNCH, in that a) it contains all of the food groups, including bacon, b) it didn't come out of the oven until 10:30, and c) it contains more calories per cubic inch than most naturally-occuring or synthetic food products.

It is gorgeous! Fortunately, we don't have guests here for the weekend, so there's no obligation to share this with anyone else. (I considered grabbing the casserole and making a break for the car, but Junior Chef #2 is patroling to ensure that she doesn't miss the opportunity to eat.)

It smells wonderful! We use a good deal of oregano in our cooking, and it plays a prominent role here.

Off to eat...taste report forthcoming...

This is a very intense, savory dish. Everything melded together well. The chiles produced a little background heat and deep, roasted flavor. Junior Chef #1 was very happy with how the tomatoes turned out - given we included them at his suggestion.

Everyone enjoyed it thoroughly. That said, I would make a few adjustments next time.
  • Grease the pan for easier serving.
  • Reduce the oregano by half to 1/2 TB. There are a lot of flavors involved. The oregano was too pronounced.
  • Add little or no salt to the egg mixture. The bacon and cheese are salty enough by themselves.
  • Use heartier bread. The store-bought variety lost most of its texture. French-bread or another type would retain more "bite." I also think it would be worth trying this with corn bread. That would produce a very different end result - probably much sweeter and creamier.
  • Bacon alternatives. I would chopped the cooked bacon next time. The strips made this difficult to cut. It would also be interesting to try alternative meats, including roast pork, grilled chicken, or ground turkey. The dish is substantial enough to incorporate these. It would then serve well as a dinner entree. (This could easily be a meatless dish, too.)

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Kudya Bwino Bwino (Eating Well) © 2009