If you are in the hunt for a delicious low carb Sunday morning breakfast or brunch casserole, this may be the dish for you. Growing up it was a tradition for my family to always make “Oklahoma Brunch Eggs” on Christmas and Easter. The heavily-used recipe card comes from a little binder of recipes by the players and wives of some late 1970s, early 1980s Chicago Bears team. Neill Armstrong, the head coach at the time, submitted the recipe for the book – thanks Neill! I don’t think we ever made a single recipe from the rest of the booklet, but those Oklahoma Brunch Eggs became a staple at the holidays. Since going ultra low carb, I’ve been interested in trying to recreate or find keto-friendly substitutions for some foods I love. The original recipe calls for two bags of croutons as the base, which just doesn’t fly when eating less than 18g of carbs a day. This egg bake is my new go-to for a late brunch on Sundays.
I pre-heated my oven to 350°F and began by prepping my onion and sausage. I sliced 1 medium yellow onion into hamburger bun-style rings, then sliced them in half. I love onion in dishes, but I know not everyone is a fan; you can use more or less depending on personal preference, but I recommend leaving them in larger pieces as they do cook down in the pan. I then sliced three spicy Italian sausage links while melting 1 tablespoon of butter over medium high heat in a skillet.
I sauteed the onions first by themselves for several minutes until completely translucent and caramelized. These add the best flavor to the casserole when they are not overpoweringly “oniony” but, rather, a tender buttery flavor hidden in each bite. I added 6oz of pre-sliced baby bella mushrooms to the onions and continued to sauté them until the mushrooms lost their moisture and browned up. Next in the pan were the slices of sausage which only require a few minutes to heat through as they are fully cooked in the package. Once the sausage is completely browned, I added 4oz of softened cream cheese to the pan, letting it melt and stirring to combine all the ingredients together. The cream cheese gives the casserole a smooth, velvety texture that would otherwise be dry, so I highly recommend this step is not skipped.
While the cream cheese was melting, I cracked 6 eggs into a bowl, added red pepper flakes and some Cholula hot sauce (my favorite brand) before beating them together. I also poured 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese into the eggs and whisked until fully combined.
Once the sausage mixture was done, I sprayed an 8×8 glass baking dish with non-stick spray and poured the sausage, mushroom and onion mix onto the bottom of the pan, spreading it evenly to all corners. I gave the eggs a final mix for good measure and poured it over top, adding another 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese at the end.
I placed the casserole on the middle rack and baked for 30 minutes until the top was golden brown and the eggs were fully set. I’ve made this before in as few as 22 minutes; since all ovens are slightly different, I suggest setting the timer for 20 or 25 minutes and checking on your egg bake. You can always add more time, but it is tricky to salvage an overdone casserole.
I like to add about a dollop (a very scientific amount) of sour cream and some diced green onions on top as my finishing steps, but this is completely optional as the egg bake is delicious on its own. I find the contrast of a hot casserole with cold sour cream and crunchy green onions to be very flavorful.
And there you have it! This would also be equally delicious with sliced ham or kielbasa instead of Italian sausage and swiss or pepperjack cheese instead of cheddar. I’ve taken leftovers for lunch to work and the flavors seem to get better each day. For anyone in the Chicago area, the sausage and onion combination reminds me of a Maxwell Street Polish and I couldn’t be more thrilled about that. There is a lot of room for experimenting with flavors – if you do, leave a comment below letting me know how it turned out! I’m hoping when I visit my parents in December, my egg casserole will become a new version of the holiday tradition I’ve grown to love on Christmas morning.