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Christmas morning. Kids are eagerly waiting for you to wake up so they can tear through the boxes and bags that Santa left under the tree. Wading through piles of torn paper, ribbon and bows, you still need to get breakfast on the table. But wait! What’s that in the oven? Santa left you a surprise too! Taking some of your leftover ham from last night’s dinner, eggnog that didn’t end up spiked with bourbon, and bread, you now have a savory eggnog-soaked French toast bake waiting to be devoured … but hopefully there’ll be no pieces of bread strewn over the floor like the wrapping. And taking a cue from Buddy the Elf, it tastes even better with maple syrup.

What Santa needed:

  • 1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1-2 tbs butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 c eggnog
  • 2 tbs honey mustard
  • 1c chopped leftover ham
  • 1 day-old loaf French or Challah bread (depending on size of baking dish, up to two loaves of French bread may be used)
  • 1 1/2 c shredded Gruyère (or other good melting cheese, like Fontina)
  • Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper

What Santa did:

  • Spray shallow 1 1/2-qt baking dish.
  • In sautépan, melt butter and cook onion until softened, about 5 min.
  • Set aside.
  • In mixing bowl, whisk eggs, eggnog, mustard and onions.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Arrange half of bread in bottom of prepared baking dish, overlapping slices to fit.
  • Sprinkle with ham.
  • Pour half of egg mixture over bread.
  • Sprinkle about 1 c cheese over egg mixture.
  • Layer remaining bread and pour remaining egg mixture on top.
  • Gently press down so bread slices absorb egg mixture.
  • Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Remove cover and bake about 1 hour, or until golden. At about 45 min, check doneness by inserting knife in center; it should come out clean. If not done, and if top is browning quickly, cover with foil and cook about 15 min. You don’t want to burn the top.
  • Remove from oven and let sit about 10 min to allow custard to set.
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