You’ve all heard breakfast is probably the most important meal of the day, but knowing that doesn’t mean you have the time or energy to make yourself a hot delicious breakfast every single day. (I mean, honestly. That’s a lot of days.) Don used to cook a breakfast casserole on the weekend that he’d portion out for his work week, but it was only okay. He didn’t love it, didn’t make it that often. But he wanted to!
Also there’s a Law & Order reference in here, which we’ll get to in a minute.
At his request, I took over the casserole cooking and made a few changes. Don used to put frozen hashbrowns directly into the dish before cooking; I add them to the saute stage so they’re heated up and absorbing flavors earlier on. He cooked this in a 9″x13″ pan; I use a 6-cup jumbo muffin pan. (That way every portion has the yummy crispy edges.) I changed it from mild cheddar to sharp, added peppers and onions. Now he loves it, and I make it almost every week.
Lactose-free, gluten free, can be vegetarian*
- 16 oz of ground sausage*
- about 15 oz shredded hash brown potatoes**
- a cup or so of water (read more below)
- a cup total of diced peppers and onions***
- 7 large eggs
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar****
- 1 tsp Ground black pepper
- 1 tsp Ground garlic powder
- Nonstick spray (your choice; I like avocado oil)
You’ll need a large pan with a matching lid, and a jumbo muffin pan. I recommend non-stick for both.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Stove cooking time: 15 minutes
Oven cooking time: 30 minutes
Makes 6 servings, about 512 calories each.
* I use pork sausage, but I’ve done turkey in this and it tastes great. You could swap out the meat for a non-meat ground protein if you want a vegetarian dish.
** This is basically half one of those frozen bags of shredded potatoes you can find from multiple brands in your grocer’s freezer section. Don’t used “diced” potatoes for this; you definitely want shredded.
*** This can be red peppers, green, or a mix of both, plus diced white onions. I use a bag of frozen peppers & onions for this to save time.
**** I use Cabot Seriously Sharp cheddar because it’s lactose-free.
Step One: Prep
Pull the frozen potatoes out to start defrosting. They can go into the pan frozen, don’t worry! But even five minutes headstart helps.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Dice your peppers and onions, or pull your pre-diced veggies out of the freezer.
Leave your eggs in the fridge; we’ll get to those in a minute.
Have you seen the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode “The Good Child“? You can find it and put it on now. Vincent D’Onofrio is excellent as always, plus it’s got John Shea in his first of FOUR appearances — as different characters — in the series.
Step Two: Stovetop Cooking
Put your large pan (I’ve got this inexpensive 3 qt Chef’s pan I use for most of my stovetop cooking) on your stove and turn your burner up to medium heat. Hit it with a little nonstick spray — you don’t need much, just to keep the sausage from sticking. Crumble your sausage into the pan, add a cup or so of water (as you do this a few times, you’ll get a sense of exactly how much you need for your pan size and cooking style, but a cup is fine to start with). Heat until it’s evenly cooked through but not yet crispy. There should still be plenty of water in the pan, too.
Dump your frozen potatoes and diced peppers/onions on top of the sausage. Don’t mix yet! Just put the lid on, and let the frozen bits steam.
Check every few minutes: you want the frozen potatoes to break apart so you can stir everything together. If there’s still a solid chunk of potatoes, put the lid back on and let it all steam for another few minutes. (You can add more water here if you think you need it.)
Once everything’s defrosted, the sausage should be crispier, and you can stir the ingredients — with the heat still on medium — until the hashbrowns are just starting to turn golden brown. It should look like this:
Take it off the heat, turn that burner off, and set the pan aside.
Get your eggs out of the fridge, crack them into a bowl, and quickly whisk them together with a fork. Doesn’t have to be perfect! Add in the black pepper and garlic powder. Leave the bowl to sit for a minute.
Use the non-stick spray to lightly coat your jumbo muffin pan.
Gentle spoon equal portions of the sausage/potato/peppers mix into the greased cups. DO NOT PACK TIGHTLY. This recipe should fill each cup to the brim with nothing leftover, but there will be space in there for the egg as well, as long as you don’t push the sausage and potatoes down too hard.
Do the same thing with the eggs, spooning them over the sausage and potatoes until each cup has egg almost to the brim.
Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top of each cup.
Step Three: Oven
Put the filled egg cup pan into the preheated oven. Go do something else for 30 minutes. Are you still watching that Law & Order episode? John Shea is great as the enthusiastically creepy dad, isn’t he?
After 30 minutes, check your egg cups. They should be perfectly cooked through and look like the picture at the top of this recipe. If they don’t, your oven might not be perfectly calibrated (which is pretty typical of ovens more than a few years old, so don’t feel bad). You can leave the egg cups in for a few more minutes if you think they need it. Otherwise, pull them out to cool.
Step Four: EGG CUP!!
Let them cool, and enjoy. You can store them in the fridge, in a sealed container, for a week, making them a flavorful and protein-packed breakfast you can grab-and-go. (Heat them in the microwave at work for about 90 seconds if you don’t have time to eat at home in the morning.)
If you didn’t get a chance to watch that Law & Order episode while you were cooking, all you really need to know is that John Shea’s character tried to do bad things, but he got caught because Det. Goren realized Shea’s girlfriend stole a ceramic egg cup from the crime scene.
When Shea’s character realizes this was his undoing, he reacted… strongly.
Now I can’t make this recipe without thinking of that scene. And if I can’t forget it, neither should you.
Don’t worry, though. These egg cups are worth it.