Did you think I was done with the bacon-and-egg thread? HA! Never!
True, Valentine’s Day has come and gone without a decadent, lovey-dovey, chocolatey post from me. It’s not that I don’t have fun celebrating the world’s cheesiest holiday with a super special meal at home followed up by a crazy-awesome dessert with my favorite Booze Hound, but I’m kind of an advocate for doing fun and special things for the one you love all year round, rather than being all vanilla by paying double for a dozen red roses on the only day of the year they are double the price.
Looking for ideas for fun and special things you can do with the one you love all year round? Well… I’m no relationship expert, but I am kind of a food-with-bacon expert. And I have been happily married for nearly 8 years. And making food with bacon for the Booze Hound is one way I show love. Put it all together and what do you get?
THE Most Outrageous Breakfast Bake.
If you want to make something reallllly special for someone you find reallllly special, THIS IS IT. When you’re going to go off the reservation with an over-the-top breakfast, own it. Pick something so bready, so cheesy, so bacony… oh, and something you can make the night before and pop in the oven when you wake up to make it easy on yourself while still looking like a rock star.
While many of us are conditioned to think of cheesy breakfast casseroles as things you find laden with canned products from your great-aunt’s church cookbook, this is soooooo not that. First, I took out the word ‘casserole’ because… you have to. ‘Bake’ is so much more 2014, no? Second, not a canned product in sight. Third, there is no cream or milk, which may sound like something to NOT brag about, but hear me out: I have made many, many a breakfast bake, both sweet and savory. The ones that are loaded with cream or milk typically have NO FLAVOR. This one is made with broth and GOBS AND GOBS of cheese, which makes it oozy, crusty, and sooooo full of sharp cheddar flavor unmasked by cream or milk.
Then there’s that pound of bacon. This bake is a walking advertisement for living the high life.
Where be the eggs, ask ye? They be cracked on top and baked last so they are still runny. I know, it just keeps getting better.
Some may cry heresy at the idea of a breakfast bake without potatoes, but I’ll pick bread any day of the week and twice on Sundays. The bread becomes crispy on the outside but chewy on the inside because it has soaked up all the broth and fat from the cheese and bacon (we’re calling a spade a spade here- this bake is completely loaded, and that’s what makes it so special). Potatoes just can’t live up to that.
I would love to say that this is the best savory breakfast bake you can ever make, and I think I’m going to: this is the best savory breakfast bake you can ever make. It transcends Hallmark holidays. It begs to be made on a random weekend when you just want to tell the love of your life how special he/she is, or when you want to remind yourself how awesome YOU are because we all need to treat ourselves once in a while. And making something where a pound of bacon is only 1/3 of the reasons this is so amazing (the others being crusty-chewy sourdough and a pound of sharp cheddar) is surely the biggest gesture of food love I can imagine.
- 1 pound bakery white or rustic sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (16 cups)
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound sliced applewood-smoked bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 pound extra-sharp cheddar, shredded (about 4 cups)
- 1¾ cups low-sodium chicken broth
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly oil a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. In a large bowl, toss the bread with the olive oil and spread on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, tossing once or twice, until the bread is golden and lightly crisp.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the bacon over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain; reserve 2 tablespoons of the fat in the skillet.
- Add the onion to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add crushed red pepper.
- Return the toasted bread cubes to the bowl. Add the contents of the skillet, along with the bacon, cheese, and broth. Stir until the bread is evenly moistened. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the mixture in the baking dish and cover with lightly oiled foil.
- Bake the bread mixture in the center of the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the top is crispy, about 15 minutes longer. Carefully remove the baking dish from the oven and, using a ladle, press 8 indentations into the bread mixture. Crack an egg into each indentation. Return the dish to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still runny. Serve immediately.