Friday, July 17, 2020

Margo's Eggs (sorta)

A couple of weeks ago - the PopTarts week - my post was almost entirely video. So I'm balancing that out with this old-school post, which has no video. But it's a REALLY good recipe, so I'd recommend reading it, anyway. 

Crispy edges, chunks of bacon, cheese, and a creamy top layer. Yum!

Here's a catch, though: I also don't have any of the prep photos, because I was doing some emotional cooking and only remembered to take photos when it was done. So you'll also have to trust me that it's one of the easiest things you'll ever make for brunch (or whenever you decide to eat it). 

Basically what you're making is a savory bread pudding crossed with a Midwestern casserole (I grew up in South Dakota, so at the point this entered my life I still talked of "casseroles" instead of the Minnesotan "hot dish"). It has an incredibly basic custard (milk and eggs), stale bread, some kind of meat and cheese, and a can of cream of something soup. 

Seriously - what's not to love? 

Because there's no video, I'm jumping straight into the recipe. For my usual ramblings, please see the Q&A section below the recipe. 

Margo's Eggs

The ingredient list is pretty straightforward: 

8 slices of bread (something sturdy and/or stale works best)
2 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 pound of bacon, browned and drained
7 eggs
2 3/4 cups milk (dual usage)
1 tsp dry mustard (or 1 tbsp brown mustard)
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup (in the original, but Cream of Chicken is great - any "Cream of..." that you think goes with cheese and bacon would work)

Butter/Margarine/Cooking spray to grease the pan

**This is, technically, for a 9"x13" pan. But it kind of depends on the size of your slices of bread. The pan in the photo (below) is, I believe, 10"x10". My mom has always made it in a shallow lasagna pan - about 10"x15" (maybe) - and if you do it in that, you'd want to use 1.5x the recipe. 

Here's how I make this:

Note: Start this the night before you want to eat it (because it should sit in the fridge overnight before baking)

1. Brown the bacon until fairly crisp (I typically use kitchen shears to cut the strips of bacon into 1-inch pieces before cooking, but you could also just cook the strips and then crumble them after they cool)
2. While the bacon is cooking, grease a 9x13 baking dish
3. In between checks on the bacon, tear up the bread into "large bite-size" pieces and throw them in the greased pan
4. Add the shredded cheese to the pan and mix with the bread
5. Hopefully by this time (it times out pretty well if you're also hand-shredding the cheese, etc.) the bacon will be done, and you can add the bite-size pieces of bacon to the pan and mix it all together

6. In a bowl, combine the eggs, mustard, and 2 1/4 cups of the milk
7. Pour the milk/egg/mustard mixture over the bread (etc.) in the pan
     (Honestly, at this point, I go in with my hands and moosh it all around. The idea is that you want the bread to soak up as much of the liquid as possible, so you move it around and push it down a bit into the liquid.)

8. In the (now empty) bowl, combine the can of soup with the remaining 1/2 cup of milk
9. Spread the soup mixture over the mix in the pan
10. Cover and refrigerate overnight (about 8 hours)

11. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
12. Bake (uncovered) for an hour (it should be pretty well "set" before you take it out)
13. Remove from the oven and let stand for about 5 minutes to finish setting up 
14. Serve (and realize some people will fight over the crispy bits around the edges)

If any of it doesn't get eaten right away, it refrigerates and reheats really well. 

Christopher wasn't around for this one, so we went old school with Cream of Mushroom.

And now to some of the questions I'm sure you probably have: 

Can I substitute other breakfast meats? 
Yes. This is a really forgiving recipe. Just try to keep the proportions the same and drain the meat before using it. Ham is an easy swap-out. Peppered bacon adds a nice bite. Sausage works. I'm sure Chorizo would be good - as would numerous non-meat products. 

What soups have you used?
The original recipe for this was always Cream of Mushroom, but then I met Christopher - who is allergic to mushrooms. So I stared for a while at the Campbell's soup rack in the grocery store and decided to go with Cream of Chicken (for the whole chicken/egg thing). I think Cream of Potato would be really good. I'm not a huge fan of Cream of Celery or Cream of Asparagus - but they might work if you like them. 

Why is it called "Margo's Eggs"? Who is Margo? Why was it an "emotional bake"? 
Alright... you knew there had to be a backstory. And I waited as long as I could to include it. 

When I was growing up, Margo and Curt were two of my parents' best friends in my home town. Curt was the town dentist (my dad was the pharmacist), and so when they moved to town it was a good match. And, sometime along the way, Margo made this casserole and served it and Mom got the recipe from her. 

It has been served every year at Christmas and at almost every family reunion. And I have served it at (I believe) every brunch I've ever hosted. And they are always "Margo's Eggs." People who never met Margo know that they're Margo's Eggs and ask me whether they'll be served at the next brunch. I've emailed the recipe for Margo's Eggs to people on both coasts at different times. They have always been - and will always be - Margo's Eggs. 

The funny thing is that Margo apparently never really made Margo's Eggs that often. When Margo and Curt came for brunch at Mom and Dad's a few years ago, she asked where Mom had gotten the recipe. Apparently they weren't a staple in their house - and when she did make them, she almost never used Cream of Mushroom soup (she opted for Cream of Chicken). She thought it was kind of ridiculous that we called them "Margo's Eggs." But... there we are. 

I made the batch of Margo's Eggs in these photos last April. I was home with my parents to spend some time with them because Margo had passed away earlier in the month. And in trying to be cautious about gatherings, there could be no funeral for a best friend. So I came home and we talked about Margo and ate the dish that we'll always think of as hers. 

It's not really enough information to understand how amazing she was, how infectious her laugh was, and how much she is missed - but you can learn more about her here:

The world is kind of crazy right now, and it's nearly impossible to share things in person. I can't even remember the last time Christopher and I hosted a brunch - and I really miss that kind of social interaction gathering. But I know that, as soon as we can safely gather in the house, Margo's Eggs will be on the table for brunch. 

And I doubt there will be any leftovers.

How're you doing these days? Are there any foods that are helping you to get through it all - or any plans for "after all this" that you're keeping your eye on? I hope you're well and taking care of yourself and those you love.

1 comment:

Robin said...

Love this - and Margo's Eggs, too!