Mother's Day is just around the corner and if you're still not sure how to celebrate or what to make, try this easy and delicious egg casserole. Inspired by a Croque Madame, this creamy, unctuous egg bake is a crowd-pleaser. Added bonus, you can make a portion of it ahead of time!
So bust out the baking dish, order your groceries, and get started!
1 Crusty loaf, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3-4 cups), we used Red Bird Bakery
6 eggs, plus 3 extra for topping the casserole
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 cups Gruyère cheese, grated and divided
2 cups cooked ham, diced
The Béchamel Sauce:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole milk, divided
Pinch of grated nutmeg
Pinch of black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350F. (If you plan to bake the casserole the same day)
Sauté diced ham, until lightly crisp
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, half-and-half, thyme, salt, and pepper. Add the bread, 2 cups of the Gruyère, and sautéed diced ham.
Using your hands or a spatula, mix the ingredients well, ensuring that the egg mixture soaks into the bread.
Transfer mixture to a 2-quart oven-safe dish and spread out evenly.
Let the mixture rest for 30 minutes before baking, allowing the egg mixture to soak into the bread. Or refrigerate overnight.
Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. We recommend pulling the casserole out of the refrigerator while the oven comes to temperature, before baking.
The Béchamel Sauce:
While the casserole is baking, melt butter in a nonstick pan on medium heat. Add flour and whisk for 2-3 minutes.
Gradually add 1 cup of the milk to the pan, whisking constantly over medium heat until no lumps remain. The sauce will thicken as it cools, so the remaining 1/4 cup milk should be reserved for use later.
Once the sauce is smooth, stir in nutmeg and black pepper, remove from heat and set aside until the casserole is done.
Once the casserole is done, remove it from the oven and turn the heat up to 425F.
While the oven gets to temperature, bring the béchamel sauce back to the burner on low heat. Whisk in the remaining quarter cup of milk until the sauce is smooth again.
Remove foil from the casserole and pour the béchamel sauce over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere.
Return casserole to oven and bake for about 10 minutes uncovered.
Remove casserole from the oven and carefully create three slightly sunken holes with the back of a spoon. Crack an egg into each hole
Turn the over to broil and place the casserole back into the oven until the egg whites are firm and the cheese is bubbly and golden on the edges.
Sprinkle casserole with extra fresh thyme and serve hot with some fresh fruit and your favorite brunch beverage!
Happy Eating - Poppy & Vine