Sassy Sausage and Hash Brown Breakfast Bake

4 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
1 pound sausage, casings removed (I used sweet Italian.)
14 cup onion, finely chopped
14 cup red bell peppers, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 (12 ounces) can evaporated milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
12 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Dash paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Spray 9 by 9-inch baking pan.  Heat oven to 350*F if you plan to bake casserole on the same day as assembly. 

2. Cook sausage in large skillet over medium heat, breaking up with wooden spoon as it cooks.  Remove sausage to paper towel-lined plate and drain. 

3. Cook bell pepper and onion in sausage fat remaining in skillet.  Sauté 5 minutes, or until soft.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Remove to paper towel-lined plate with sausage. 

4. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in skillet and brown hash browns in batches, following package directions.  Continue until all hash browns are browned on both sides. 

5. Layer half of the hash browns in baking dish.  Top with half of the sausage and vegetable mixture and 12 cup of cheese.  Repeat layers to use all potatoes, sausage, and vegetables. 

6. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, evaporated milk, cayenne, paprika, salt and pepper.  Pour this mixture evenly over the casserole and cover with aluminum foil. 

7. If baking immediately, place in oven and cook 50 minutes before removing foil.  Bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes then allow casserole to cool for 10 minutes before serving.  Top as desired with things like sour cream, jalapenos, salsa, green onions, etc. 

8. If baking another day, refrigerate until ready to heat oven.  Remove casserole from fridge and allow to come to room temperature while oven heats.  Then proceed as above. 

No photo – this happens when I have company.

This recipe is from Willow Bird Baking and it was suggested to me when I was looking for something unusual to do for a company breakfast.  This is sort of like strata, but the bread is replaced by hash browns.  It was scrumptious and we all enjoyed it quite a bit!  I think I used more peppers and onions than the recipe called for, since I seem to recall making it in a 9x12 instead of a 9x9.  But looking over the recipe now, I’m not entirely sure what I did differently!