The Yankee Chef
It is not often I enjoy a savory bread pudding, but when I do, it is only in the Yankee style! I have used ground, Italian turkey, ground chicken, beef, and even Italian sausage in this recipe, with each contributing their own special flavor. But unlike dessert bread pudding, do not feel the urge to add sugar. The apples and little bit of brown sugar are sweet enough for this aromatic breakfast casserole.
Nonstick cooking spray
2 medium apples, your favorite
2 tablespoons brown sugar
8 oz. ground pork (breakfast) sausage (see NOTE)
1/2 cup minced onion
1 1/2 cups shredded, yellow cheddar cheese
8 oz. (8-9 slices) bread, cubed
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
Grease a 9-10-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. You can also grease 4 (2-cup) individual, oven-safe casserole dishes as well, as I often do.
Peel and cut apples in 4 wedges, core, and dice. Mix the brown sugar into diced apples well and add half the apples to a large skillet along with sausage and onion.
Cook over medium high heat until thoroughly done, breaking up sausage as you are cooking. Drain grease and set aside.
In a large bowl, add bread cubes, cooked sausage mixture, cheddar cheese, and remainder of the spiced apples but do not mix; set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk milk, eggs, salt and pepper and pour over bread mixture. Gently toss and transfer to prepared pan, making sure meat, fruit, and bread are evenly distributed.
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until well browned on top and it feels firm in the middle when carefully touched.
Remove from oven and serve hot, with or without maple syrup.
NOTE: I can never find just the right flavored pork sausage for my taste, so I make my own by mixing 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon each sage, savory, celery seeds (optional) and Dijon mustard, and an eighth teaspoon red pepper flakes into 8 ounces ground pork.