Country French Toast Bake with Sausage

Serves 4+   It’s been a while but I finally have my kitchen up and running so I’m gearing up for the holidays. This is my favorite time of year — and cooking old favorites as well as testing new recipes are two of the reasons. (Plus I just love Christmas/Holiday music and play it continually until January!)  Here is a breakfast dish that is easy, very tasty and can be made ahead of time. It might sound a bit strange, but after years of watching my husband eat pancakes/waffles and sausage together with syrup, it seemed like a good mix of flavors. Perfect for a holiday morning breakfast.  I like being able to just pop it in the oven in the morning.

 

Ingredients:

3 slices of bacon – cut into 1/4” pieces

1/2 pound pork sausage (or your *favorite already seasoned)

1 Tbsp fresh sage leaves, cut into strips (or use 1/2 Tbsp dried sage)

1/2 tsp pepper

generous pinch of salt

dash cayenne (optional)

1 Tbsp South Fork Sausage seasoning (available from Savory Spice Shop) or use Italian herbs instead

4 pieces of day old bread (I like to use egg bread or  multi-grain)

3 Tbsp walnuts – rough chop

1 tsp Cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla sugar (or regular sugar)

1 Tbsp cold butter – cut into thin slices

6 eggs

3/4 cup half-half or milk

 

Directions

Generously butter a 9 x 5 baking dish or spray with Pam baking spray.

Preheat oven to 350º (when you are ready to bake this dish)

Tear the bread into chunks and place them on the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar evenly over the top. Set aside.

 

In a heavy skillet, cook the bacon pieces until crisp – stirring often. Remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and place them in a bowl. Then add the sage leaves to the bacon drippings and stir until crisp. This will only take about a minute or so. Remove and add to the bacon bowl.

 

In the same pan, brown the pork sausage and *season it with the  South Fork Sausage seasoning, salt, pepper and cayenne. Cook until crumbly and cooked through. With a slotted spoon, move the sausage to the bacon/sage bowl and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes. Gently mix in the walnuts and spoon the mixture evenly over the bread.

 

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, and half-half until well blended. Then stir in the slices of cold butter and pour the mixture over the sausage and bread. Press with a spoon to help immerse the bread.  Cover with tin foil and refrigerate overnight or just refrigerate it for about an hour so the flavors have a chance to blend and the bread soaks up the egg and seasoning.

 

Bake at 350º for 40 minutes covered in foil. Then remove the foil and bake another 8 minutes. Drizzle with maple syrup and serve.

NOTE: *Skip the seasoning steps if you are using a sausage that is already flavored/seasoned. Also, if using a prepared sausage, be sure to drain it well. They usually have a lot more excess fat than a good butcher’s quality ground pork.