Brunch With the Homesick Texan

Sausage and Pepper Breakfast Casserole

The morning after my grandma Ashner’s funeral, the family met at her home to begin going through her things. We were all exhausted from the day before, and the prospect of dealing with her stuff was a bit daunting. To fortify us for the task at hand, my aunt brought a breakfast casserole, made extra hearty with lots of sausage, bread, peppers, and cheese. As we silently tucked into warm slices of the casserole, we all began to feel a little bit better, and before long, we were sharing stories and recollections. This type of breakfast casserole, also known as a strata, works well for busy days, as it can be assembled the night before and baked in the morning. And while you certainly don’t need a somber occasion to serve it, this substantial breakfast will give your family and friends the strength needed to begin a new day.


2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup (8 ounces) breakfast sausage
2 jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded, and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 slices (12 ounces) Texas toast bread or French bread, cut into 1‐inch cubes
6 eggs, beaten
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon powdered mustard
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of cayenne
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded pepper Jack cheese
salsa, for serving

In a large, ovenproof skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil over medium-low heat and add the breakfast sausage. (If using breakfast sausage that comes in a cas- ing, remove the casing.) Cook, occasionally stirring and breaking up any large clumps, until lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage into a large mixing bowl.

Leaving the skillet on the heat, add the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil (if there is plenty of grease in the skillet after cooking the sausage, you don’t need to add the oil) and then add the jalapeños. Cook, occasionally stirring, until the chiles are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.

Turn off the heat and scrape the vegetables from the skillet into the bowl with the cooked sausage. Add the cubed bread and toss together until well combined. Once the skillet has cooled, about 5 minutes, transfer the bread, sausage, and vegetables into the skillet.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, mustard powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne and pour over the bread. Stir in half of the cheese and then top the casserole with the remaining cheese. Cover and allow the bread to rest, refrigerated, for at least 2 and up to 8 hours, or until the bread has absorbed the milk and egg mixture.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and take the skillet out of the refrigerator.

Bake the casserole, uncovered, for 45 to 50 minutes, until it’s puffed and golden brown on top. (The casserole will deflate as it cools.) Serve warm with salsa. 

Reprinted with permission from The Homesick Texan’s Family Table by Lisa Fain, copyright (c) 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

Photography by Lisa Fain.

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