Thursday, April 28, 2011

Technically Paleo Breakfast Casserole

A breakfast of turnips and bacon.
Doesn't it just make you want to go out and plow the back forty?
This recipe is a variation of the "Primal Breakfast Casserole" from Mark's Daily Apple. His version uses breakfast sausage and not much else, although he mentions that you can add other things to it. I'm adding other things to it.

Breakfast sausage is OK, but it has two problems in my mind. First, unless you go to an actual butcher and have them grind sausage for you, chances are that your breakfast sausage has various non-paleo ingredients (mainly preservatives). I might still go with it, if it weren't for the second problem with breakfast sausage. Breakfast sausage isn't bacon. Since I'm a grown man who gets to pick whatever breakfast meat he darn well pleases, I'm going to pass on the sausage and go for some good quality bacon. Trader Joe's makes my bacon of choice for technically paleo cooking, but I won't say no to pretty much any bacon.

So, this is going to be a Bacon Breakfast Casserole. I've also spiced up the original recipe with a little onion and some peppers. I think they help steer the recipe away from brick-made-of-turnips-land.

One last thing before we get started with the recipe. Turnips come in a range of sizes. The original recipe just says "3 turnips," but some of the comments mention that two were enough. If your turnips are the size of baseballs, you'll probably need three. If they're the size of softballs, you'll probably only need two.

I didn't have time to stop by Trader Joe's, so I had to settle for an alternate bacon.

2 large or 3 medium turnips
1 small onion
2 jalapeno peppers
16 oz bacon
4 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste

Vegetable Peeler
Food Processor (recommended. You can use a grater instead)
Large Bowl
8x8 Inch Baking Dish
Aluminum Foil

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and then start getting your vegetables ready. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the outside layer of the turnips, and then grate them. I recommend using a food processor for convenience, but you can use a manual grater. Put the turnips into a large bowl.

The resemblance to hash browns is not only visual.
This casserole will taste a lot like it has hash browns in it.
Dice the onion and set it aside.

If you can find a vidalia onion, use that. If not, use a standard yellow onion.

Remove the stem and seeds from the jalapenos, so that you're only left with the outside part of the pepper. Dice the peppers and set them aside.

Removing the stem and seeds significantly reduces the heat of the peppers.

Cut the bacon into small pieces. The pieces should be larger than bacon bits, but small enough that you could still put them on a salad if you wanted to.

Add the bacon to a pan over medium-high heat and cook it until it has browned. Remove the bacon from the pan and let it drain. A paper towel on a plate is probably the easiest draining setup for the bacon.

Bacon - The King of Breakfast Meats

Add the pepper and onion to the pan. If there is a little bacon fat left in the pan, then good, because it will help keep the vegetables from sticking. Cook the pepper and onion just until the onion is translucent. You'll need to occasionally stir everything to keep the onion from burning.

Don't brown the onion. What you want to do is technically called "sweating" the onion.

Add the bacon, pepper, and onion to the bowl with the turnips.

You should give the onions and peppers a minute or two to cool down so they don't scramble the egg.

Beat the eggs in a small bowl, and add them to the large bowl with everything else. Even with the bacon, I'd recommend adding a large pinch or two of salt at this point. You should also get out your pepper grinder and add a generous sprinkling of pepper.

Mix everything together in the bowl, then transfer it into an 8x8 inch baking dish.

If you flatten the top a little, it will keep any stray turnip strands from burning.

Cover the baking dish with some aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. Then, uncover the dish and bake for another 20 minutes to brown the top of the casserole.

The edges will be browned, just like you'd expect from any good casserole.
  • The jalapenos don't make the casserole very spicy, but you could replace them with an equal amount of red bell pepper if you're concerned about it.
  • Turnips have a bad rep, probably because they're associated with hard times. The truth is that turnips are like more delicious potatoes with fewer carbs and more nutrients.
  • I added about 1/2 tsp of salt and about 1/2 tsp of pepper before baking the casserole, and it came out just right. If you know that your bacon is particularly salty, you might not need that much, but because the dish is mostly turnips, you're almost definitely going to need a little extra salt.
  • According to Mark's Daily Apple, you can double the recipe and put it into a 13x9 inch baking dish. The 8x8 inch version was enough for 4-6 servings, though, so I'd only double it if you've got some serious company for breakfast.
  • You could try other ingredients in this if you wanted. Some good ones to try are: mushrooms, ham, spinach, or diced, cooked broccoli. Just don't add so many ingredients that you overflow the baking dish.
  • Like all good casseroles, this one can be made ahead of time and reheated.

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