Breakfast Burrito Casserole: It's Go Time

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Playoff football is in the air. Sadly our beloved Seattle Seahawks lost this past weekend, but I won with this recipe. For a morning game I decided to serve up some breakfast/brunch fare. On the menu: Top Pot Doughnuts including requisite Seahawk Sprinkles, Caprese Kabobs (recipe coming soon), and this breakfast casserole. Why a casserole? When you know I'm not a huge fan? Because I needed something I could prepare in advance, something flavorful and low maintenance, and something that could serve a crowd easily.

After researching some recipes that frankly scared the shit out of me, I stared at the chorizo I'd bought the day before to make empanadas with and got smacked in the face with inspiration: breakfast burritos, but in casserole form. Brilliant. Being a SoCal native, The Breakfast Burrito was as much a part of my culinary culture as guacamole. Many places, both large and small would put out their version of the simple breakfast fusion, some with greater success than others. Hell even McDonald's jumped on the breakfast burrito bandwagon with their pathetic version. So suffice it to say, I've had my fair share of the food. One of the better burritos I've ever had actually was at a doughnut shop in Orange County -- Aliso Viejo Doughnuts. Stop by if you're in the area and get yourself one (and a doughnut while you're at it) -- super, super good and one of the best you'll have.

So what makes it good? Tender cubed potatoes are tossed in a spicy salsa and stuffed in the burrito with freshly scrambled eggs, your choice of bacon, sausage or chorizo, sharp cheddar cheese, and more spicy salsa to spoon on top of each bite. All bound in a fresh, warm flour tortilla. It's hearty and heaven and this is my adaptation in casserole form. I take yukon gold potatoes and cube them small, then boil them in salted water until fork-tender. Drained very, very well, they're tossed in some salsa and layered at the bottom of a buttered casserole dish. Next level: spicy super flavored chorizo sausage cooked with onions and garlic to give a spicy earthiness, and depth of flavor only chorizo is known for. On top and to bring it all together, lightly beaten eggs with cream -- gives a nice silky texture as well as serving as binder to the whole dish. On top, shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Served piping hot with a cold sour cream and sliced fresh avocado and more spicy salsa on the side for a super delicious, super flavorful, incredibly satistfying without feeling heavy brunch food you will make again and again and again. Want it in burrito form? Just add a side of warmed tortillas and have at it.

Love this recipe and it was very, very well received. Dish licked clean. Make it for your next morning game, church function, brunch party, or just because you love chorizo. Enjoy it!

This recipe makes enough to serve 6-8 people with good portions, up to 10-12 smaller portions for a perfect brunch buffet. 

Breakfast Burrito Casserole
2-3 large yukon gold potatoes (you want about 3 cups worth of cubed potatoes), peeled and cut into cubes
2 Tbsp olive oil (preferably spanish olive oil)
2 Tbsp butter or nonstick spray
2 lbs chorizo sausage (without casings or removed from casings)
1 small white onion, chopped small
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup beef broth (or water)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
your favorite fresh salsa, spicy level to your taste (use the fresh salsa in the refrigerated section, NOT the bottled kind)
18 extra large eggs
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
avocado for garnish
sour cream for serving
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
more spicy salsa or your favorite hot sauce for serving (optional)

Take a large pot and place cubed potatoes in. Add cold water right on top and a good pinch of salt to the water. Bring to a boil and cook potatoes until fork-tender (meaning, you can pierce a piece of potato easily with a fork). Drain very, very well and place potatoes in a mixing bowl. While still warm, add about 3-4 heaping tablespoons of the salsa and mix to combine. You want the potatoes coated but not soaking in the salsa, so depending on how chunky or saucy your salsa is, make sure the potatoes are still more potato than salsa ratio. Adjust with salt and pepper to taste and set aside (potatoes will soak up the flavors of the salsa as it sits).

Now prepare the chorizo. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the chorizo sausage meat (again, you want the free meat so if it's in a casing then squeeze the meat out of the casing; conversely you can buy the meat without the casings at more markets now) and break up the meat using a sturdy wooden spoon. Cook on medium-high heat until well browned on all sides, then remove the meat from the pan and set aside. In the same pan with the juices and oil rendered from the sausage, cook the onions. If you need more oil go ahead and add a bit more olive oil. Using your wooden spoon, make sure to pick up the brown bits formed on the bottom of the pan. The broth will also help you in this. Cook onions on medium-low heat until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute, then add the cooked chorizo back with the onions and garlic and mix to combine. Now add the broth and use its moisture to help loosen those brown bits on the bottom and sides of the pan (that's flavor!). Cook on medium heat until all of the broth is absorbed, then taste and adjust with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

All of this can be done up to a day in advance.

Butter a casserole dish (or spray with nonstick spray) and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place the salsa potatoes in the bottom of your casserole dish in one even layer. Add the chorizo right on top in one even layer (sort of like you're layering lasagna).

Next, crack all of the eggs in a large mixing bowl and pour in the cream. Add some salt and pepper to taste (I do a good pinch of each) and using a whisk, begin to beat the mixture together. You want light and fluffy here for good egg texture! Beat about 40 seconds, then pour the egg mixture all over the sausage. Now top with the cheese right on top again in one even layer, and place in oven. Cook until eggs are set and cheese is melted, about 15-25 minutes depending on the strength of your oven. Remember, the potatoes and meat are already fully cooked, so you're just waiting for the eggs to get cooked through. Careful not to overcook!

Remove and let stand about 5 minutes before cutting so juices can redistribute.

Serve with some fresh cilantro sprinkled on top if desired, sour cream and fresh avocado sliced thinly and more salsa or your favorite hot sauce on the side.

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