Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Breakfast Hotdish, Minnesota Style

As we settle into the long, cold, dark days that come with the final slog through winter, we—your pals from The Awl and The Hairpin—will be bringing you some of our favorite casserole recipes (and crockery recommendations).

I'm from Minnesota—the land of Paul Bunyan, Babe the Blue Ox, the Coen brothers, Bob Dylan, a gas station designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the US Hockey Hall of Fame, a boatload of lakes and Prince. This is a place where dinner is often called 'supper' and the casserole is known as a 'hotdish.'

Many a hotdish has been served at my family table many times, with many recipes calling for the omnipresent cream-of-something soup. But hotdish is not just for dinner—er, supper. It can also occupy an esteemed place at the breakfast table. Am I about to wax poetic about an egg casserole? You betcha!

Quiches. Stratas. Frittatas. Tortilla españolas. Like the dumpling, the egg casserole has been re-invented many different ways. This Midwestern version is hearty, delicious and super-comforting. It also meets the requirements for a successful breakfast hotdish, Minnesota style. It can be assembled the night before meaning no preparation the day of and, of course, it cooks in one pan. You don’t need to serve anything with it. Bread? In the casserole, Meat? In the casserole. Fruit? Okay, pour some OJ. The only “chopping” involved is cutting up the white bread. Not an onion nor clove of garlic involved. All flavoring comes from the “spicy” Jimmy Dean sausage and dried mustard. Throw in eggs, milk and cheddar cheese. There you go.

I was a picky eater as a kid, but I still have fond memories of this dish—my mom would serve it Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings or any time extended family came to visit for the weekend. My dad, however, was never a fan, as he became the family gourmet when I was a teenager and cooked like a person who never had to wash a dish (that’s what his children were for, after all).

I've since moved away from Minnesota, and lived in San Francisco and New York, where I’ve been exposed to many wonderful and diverse foods, yet I still love this egg casserole. Here's how you make it .

Breakfast Hotdish

1 ½ lbs bulk pork sausage
9 eggs slightly beaten
3 cups milk
1 ½ tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
3 slices bread cut into ¼-inch cubes
1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese

Brown and crumble sausage and drain well. Mix eggs, milk and seasoning. Stir in bread, sausage and cheese. Pour into a 13×9 inch pan. Refrigerate covered overnight. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for one hour. Insert knife in center to test for doneness.

You can mix it up. I’ve had egg hotdish with Bac-Os (a little chewy), and when my grandmother passed away, family friends brought over their version of egg hotdish, which included a topping of crushed potato chips. Because nothing says sorry for your loss like greasy, processed junk food served at breakfast. Who says Midwesterners can’t express their feelings?

Previously: Chicken Mushroom Casserole For The Lazy Snob

Jennifer Jerutis is a Midwesterner who traded her Velveeta for burrata.

41 Comments / Post A Comment

crescentmelissa (#10,702)

This looks wonderful! I made the Chicken Mushroom Casserole for snooty people and it was a hit. Between this and the Chicken and Broccoli Curry Casserole I have died and gone to heaven. These types of recipes are my absolute favorites.

Bittersweet (#765)

@crescentmelissa: I made the chicken mushroom casserole last night for my family and it was a big hit too.

My recipe for breakfast casserole is almost exactly the same as above, but it specifies whole milk. Has anyone tried it with 2% or other low fat milk? Not that you're going for low-fat with this recipe anyway…

Janesy (#215,014)

@crescentmelissa You can use 2% no problem. I make a version of this but it's "brunch bake" in the Janesy household.

Add a cheap can of peppers – green chili or chipotle – and you're there.

BadUncle (#153)

My grandmother used to make something almost exactly like that, but with some whimsical CA name I can't remember. But now I have a mighty hankerin' for exactly this.

It looks great, but I have only 8 eggs. Damn.

atipofthehat (#797)


You're one egg shy of a hotdish.

pelsaealicia (#214,939)

Looks delicious.. add some hot sauce

Hands off, boys! She's mine.

@Clarence Rosario Your cute!

This is what we always have/had for breakfast on Christmas morning! Sometimes, having parents from the midwest is great.

SuperMargie (#1,263)

Using Land-O-Lakes processed cheese gives it that extra Lutheran-Church-Kitchen oomph. Then slather it with Tobasco sauce once you get it on your plate!

hockeymom (#143)

Served with a side of jello and a dollop of martyrdom:)

KenWheaton (#401)

Awesome. Take out the bread and it's even Atkins friendly.

I do have one question, though. Is it actually winter anywhere in America this year?

Limaceous (#2,392)

@KenWheaton It's certainly not winter in California this year. Though, to be fair, it's never really winter in California.

Bittersweet (#765)

@KenWheaton: Colorado's had a few winter-like incidents.

@KenWheaton i'm freezing up in OR!

Smitros (#5,315)

Uff da!

Question: Has any Minnesota-born stripper gone by the name Hotdish?

BadUncle (#153)

@Smitros Probably as many as there are Hungarian strippers who go by "Chicken Paprikash."

Smitros (#5,315)

@BadUncle Ha! You may need to do some field research.

My grandmother introduced me to a similar recipe. We use croutons (the Pepperidge Farm little square guys), make it the night before, and just before we bake it, we pour a can of cream of mushroom mixed with a can of milk over the top. The leftovers (if there are any) are even better than the fresh casserole.

UprightInfinity (#215,005)

@SecretlyStephie@twitter do we have the same Grandmother? My recipe also uses the seasoned croutons, the overnight refrigeration and the extra layer of milk and cream of mushroom in the morning, can't be beat. If we don't have the same Grandma…hey, how YOU doing?

whizz_dumb (#10,650)

Us midwesterners sure do love our casseroles. My buddy makes a simplified version of this called "Weird Eggs". We wrote a ditty for the dish to the tune of the MacGruber theme song: "Add a quarter stick of butter and you chuck 'em in the oven, it's WEIRD EGGS!"

Poubelle (#214,283)

My (Minnesota) college cafeteria made a version of this sometimes. It made actually getting up in time to eat breakfast worth it.

(A frequent item at lunch would be tater-tot hotdish. I think half my education there was learning to live with a culture different than my own.)

ennaenirehtac (#11,592)

@Poubelle I specifically came here to extol the virtues of tater-tot hotdish. My Minnesotan husband introduced me to it, and it is basically my favorite. Tater tots, ground beef, cream of mushroom soup (of course)…amahzing.

Nodderly (#215,011)

I ask this with all respect to the kind author and readership: is it possible to make an egg casserole that doesn't smell like a fart? I have been subjected to one in particular at regular brunches that is outright offensive. Have I been eating a suboptimal egg casserole?

SeanP (#4,058)

@Nodderly Eggs are naturally pretty sulfurous, so… no.

My family called it eggdish. Yep, one word. It was our wink, wink, nudge, nudge inside wordplay on hotdish…crazy Minnesotans. Living in the east I often miss these down home treats. This was a great post, made me think of home…and what kind of cream soup I have in the pantry. Looks like I'm having a hot dish for supper!

aSaltySalute (#293)

In my family (Colorado) it's known as "egg pizza," and it starts with a layer of canned crescent rolls laid out flat along the bottom to make a crust.

shudder (#5,913)

I'm guessing there's not gonna be a vegetarian version of this…

Artressa Vendelay (#11,320)

@shudder: I've made something similar with veggie saussage before. Tasted pretty salty and delicous. I'll actually be in Minesota soon. I hope there is enough vegeatrian fare!

@shudder tofu chorizo is actually kind of amazing. i've also used a tofu andouille in jambalya.

*i am not even vegetarian!

whimseywisp (#188,621)

Approximately how many servings is this delicious hotdish?

@whimseywisp 8ish

KikiCollins (#209,031)

I'm thinking of making this for (very) late dinner, as soon as my roommates come back with eggs.

BUT, I have a very important question to ask: Mushrooms and spinach, yea or nay? I mean, the mushrooms are a foregone conclusion. But spinach? It'll be good, right? And help me pretend it's kinda healthy?

SeanP (#4,058)

@KikiCollins Oh my god, yes.

totallyunoriginal (#45,259)

Flashback to every major church function and family get together. Except we used Bob Evan's sausage because I'm from Ohio and it's blasphemous to use anything but Bobby E's.

jillxcastillo (#215,600)

Im craving for this. awesome

bothcook (#215,712)

nice picture………….

CosmoLupertazzi (#215,859)

I didn't grow up in the Midwest, but my parents did, so anything with any Campbell's "Cream of …" in it or on it qualified as a meal. But growing up in California also meant "Hawaiian Pork Chops" made with a couple bottles of "catsup," white vinegar, brown sugar, and pineapple. And pork chops. I once added some cut-up bell pepper and yellow onions, and I was Escoffier reborn. It's taken me many years to overcome my multiple addictions…

Cut the bread into QUARTER-INCH cubes? Doesn't that take like two days or something? As you might guess, I am certainly NOT Escoffier – but this sounds really good. Just wondering if, say, half-inch cubes would still work.
Just read the whole stream (which I am passing on to my Minnesota neighbor) and the Pepperidge Farm croutons sound truly
my style.

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