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My Grandma's Egg Casserole Is The Cozy Christmas Brunch Dish You Need

Pure comfort food to feed a crowd for under $20.

Like many kids growing up, I could hardly wait for Christmas morning. There was so much to look forward to: the gifts, the hugs, the merriment and, of course, the food.

In my household, the annual ritual of unwrapping presents under the tree came early after first light, followed by a big hearty breakfast at grandma's house across town. A fairly late breakfast, by that point.

Call it brunch, call it the after-party, call it what you willit was always a big deal to me.

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There were festive cookies of all kinds and steamy mugs of hot cocoa, fresh baked biscuits and jam, my mom's glorious cream cheese braid, and the main dish: grandma's egg casserole.

You hear a lot about the "joy of Christmas." This, to me, is the aroma and flavor of the holiday: rich and savory, warm and satisfying. Pure comfort. Like a frittata or quiche, packed with a lot more carbs, a meal unto itself and then some.

It was such a hit, she often baked two. There were many mouths to feed: uncles, aunts, cousins, in-lawsnot to mention grandpa (we called him "Grandy")good-hearted people, all of 'em. And I, then-nicknamed "the kid with the hollow leg," could nearly take down an entire casserole myself.

What made it so good? I dunno, stardust? My grandmother, Bonnie, was a lovely, 20th-century American queen, and the casserole, as a thing, was very of her era: economical, communal, and convenient. Your own mother, or grandmother, or great-grandmother, probably has a similar recipe.

Like much of her cooking, the egg casserole was nothing really fancy, but it was done with carethe delicious embodiment of beauty in simplicity.

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The whole recipe comes down to five basic supermarket staples: a loaf of white bread, a quart of milk, a pound of pork sausage, a half-dozen eggs, a half-pound of shredded cheese. Add a dash of some common seasonings, like salt, pepper, dry mustard, and Worcestershire sauce, which you probably already have on hand. Now, you're in business.

It's hard to imagine what these ingredients must have cost back in her day. I probably don't want to know. But even today, they remain relatively affordable.

A dozen eggs costs $2.14 on average right now, about 40% less than last year. A loaf of basic white bread is $1.98. A gallon of milk is $3.99. Pork is $3.71 and cheddar cheese is $5.65 per pound, respectively. All told, you can put together the whole dish for about $20 or less, if you already have the right spices.

Grandma liked to cut the crusts off the bread first, then cut each slice into eighths. This will be the foundation. Layer the greased casserole dish with bread pieces, add bits of cooked sausage, then top with cheese. Build a second layer in the same order.

Whisk together the eggs, milk and seasonings, then pour the whole mixture over the layered starch and protein. Stick it in the fridge to chill overnight, then transfer to the oven in the morning. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour until golden brown.

You'll know when it's ready.

That smell, my friends, that's Christmas.

An earlier version of this article was originally published on December 24, 2022. It has been updated to reflect the latest information.

Chris Shott
Chris Shott is the Deputy Editor covering restaurants and groceries for Eat This, Not That! Read more about Chris