Since my overnight oats recipe only makes breakfast for six days, I need something to make on the seventh day, right? I've been making my breakfast bake for years. Before I got married, I used to make it with ham. Now, I make it with turkey or chicken. The cheese remains the same, though. It will always be a creamy, delicious, smoked gruyere.
Like the overnight oats, this is a make-ahead breakfast because I am not a morning person. I do not make waffles and omelets for breakfast. That's a breakfast for dinner kind of meal in my house. But, I can totally take something out of the fridge, throw it in the oven, and leave it in there while I wash my face, brush my teeth, braid my hair, and apply a mask of makeup.
Perfect. Let's get started.
Before we can mise en place, we've got to go to the grocery store. Plain old sandwich bread will not do for this recipe. You have to use a hard, crusty bread. An Italian-style loaf of bread is ideal. I get a normal loaf, cut it in half, and it works perfectly. The other half can be frozen for next time or turned into garlic bread. French bread will do in a pinch, but your finished breakfast will be drier due to the higher ratio of crust on the thinner/longer baguette. Fresh baked, preservative-free bread works best for this, so you might want to consider stopping by a legit bakery.
This recipe needs a day-old loaf of Italian bread.
Once you've got your day-old bread, it needs to be cut into half-inch cubes. I know, right now, you're like, "Fuck you, Janelle. Cutting bread into half-inch pieces? No. Fuck you." Hey, it's cool, I get it. Cutting bread can suck if you're using a flat blade, so just make sure you have a long, serrated knife like a bread knife or a cake knife. I start at the center of the loaf. It's easier to cut the nubby, crusty end when you're down to just it than it is to cut the softer center of the loaf into the last two slices. (Or, you can super-cheat and freeze the fucker. It's harder to cut, yet easier to dice.) While holding the slices over a large measuring cup, tear it into little pieces. Trust me, tearing up your food is very cathartic. Just make sure your hands and nails are super clean or wear food-safe gloves.
Shit. I'm already shredding bread and I haven't done my mise en place yet!
You need a 13x9 inch glass pan. Don't use metal! Cleaning it will be a fucking nightmare. If you are afraid to cook in glass baking dishes, don't be. The secret is to always make sure that the bottom is covered in liquid. Whether you're making a roast, a cake, or this breakfast bake, the bottom just has to be covered. People shatter glass pans inside of their ovens by cooking something--let's say a chicken--without enough liquid to cover the bottom of the pan. This causes uneven heating and causes the glass to shatter. But, if used properly, Pyrex glass dishes are safe to go from the FREEZER to a preheated oven. Preheating is also essential to the proper use of a glass baking dish. Always preheat and never, ever stick a glass dish in a cold or still-heating oven.
You'll also need a way to mix your ingredients. You can use a stand mixer, a bowl with a hand mixer, or simply a bowl and a whisk. Also pull out a measuring cup for liquids, a tablespoon, a half-teaspoon, non-stick cooking spray, a cheese grater, a cutting board, and a knife for chopping.
- 8 cups bread cubes
- 1 cup finely chopped baked turkey, chicken, or ham (about 5-6 oz)
- 8 oz freshly shredded smoked gruyere cheese
- 4 large eggs (for less cholesterol, use 6 eggs and take out 5 of the yolks)
- 3 cups fat-free milk (I prefer Fairlife milk for the bonus protein)
- a pinch of salt
- 3-5 twists of freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon sriracha sauce (or Tabasco, if you must)
- Coat your glass dish with cooking spray and sprinkle in the bread to cover the bottom. Evenly distribute the meat across the top. Sprinkle the cheese over the meat and bread. Try to resist eating handfuls of the creamy, smoky goodness that is called gruyere.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs until no more blobs of eggwhite are visible. Add the milk, mustard, salt, pepper, and hot sauce and mix until well blended. It will separate if you let it sit, so pour it over the bread right away.
- The bread is going to want to float, so lightly press it with a large spoon or spatula to submerge it. Try not to squish the bread--you still want it to be able to be kind of fluffy, you just don't want dry peaks of bread that never got moistened to burn in the oven.
- Now, cover that shit and stick it in the fridge. It needs to rest for at least five hours, but overnight is fine. I wouldn't let it sit for longer than twelve hours, though.
- In the morning, preheat the oven to 350. When your oven is up to temperature, put the uncovered dish in the middle of the center rack. Bake it for 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. If your oven sucks like mine does and doesn't heat evenly, turn it around halfway through so that one corner doesn't burn while another corner isn't quite done yet.
- Let it rest for ten minutes, then cut however big or small of a piece that you want. Because you're a fucking adult who is capable of making your own serving size choices. I'm not going to tell you this serves 6, 8, or 12. Figure it out for yourself.
- Enjoy. That's an order, but an easy one to obey because this shit is fucking delicious!
- Refrigerate any leftovers.
It's all pretty easy. From start to finish, I'd say prep takes 30-45 minutes. The bread is the suckiest part. Then, the baking is easy. An hour gives you plenty of time to get most, or perhaps even all, of your morning routine done without having to stand over a stove or eat a cold breakfast. It also reheats well for the next day or even for lunch.