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Ask A Chef: Best Breakfast Casserole Recipes

Chef Michael Donoho of The Waffle Experience (Credit, Valerie Heimerich)

Chef Michael Donoho brings a wealth of culinary talent to The Waffle Experience, the new Natomas eatery he co-owns with fellow Desert Storm Marine Jeff Belaski. Having worked alongside gastronomic stars like Julia Child, Anthony Bourdain and famed Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, Donoho knows his way around a kitchen.

Michael Donoho
The Waffle Experience
4391 Gateway Park Blvd., Suite #650
Sacramento, CA 95834
(916) 285-0562

The unparalleled menu at Donoho's restaurant includes the "Benedict Arnold," with house-cured Canadian bacon, leeks, fresh eggs, chive-mustard hollandaise and cinnamon apple compote atop a crisp, savory Belgian Liège apple waffle. Or satisfy a sweet tooth with a cacao waffle "Smor'Tella," with toasted marshmallow, Nutella, graham cracker, warm hazelnut-rum syrup and caramelized bananas foster. Read on for some great breakfast casserole recipes from this acclaimed chef.

Chef Michael's Breakfast Strata

A strata is a layered casserole, typically made with meat, eggs, cheese and bread. The dish needs to sit in the refrigerator overnight before cooking.Serves 6
  • 1 lb. duck sausage (chorizo or other types of sausage would also work)
  • 1 loaf artisan bread, cubed
  • 3 cups whole milk (reduced-fat milk works, but the results are less creamy)
  • 2 cups fresh Parmesan, shredded (pre-shredded cheese can be substituted, but there is a world of difference when fresh Parmesan is used)
  • 1 1/2 cup rapini, broccoli rabe or broccoli, blanched in boiling water and then chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt


  1. Brown sausage in a skillet, drain.
  2. Beat eggs in large bowl.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
  4. Pour into greased casserole dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 350° F and cook for 1 hour or until firm.

Optional: Top each serving with a drizzle of truffle oil and crème fraìche or Mexican crema.

Related: Best Pumpkin Dishes In Sacramento

Specials board at The Waffle Experience (Credit, Valerie Heimerich)

Pork & Beans Breakfast Cassoulet

A cassoulet is a rich meat and white bean casserole that is cooked slowly. The cooking process is lengthy but not complicated, and the results are more than worth it. Duck confit is a succulent seasoned and preserved meat, often found at fine meat shops or gourmet grocers like Williams-Sonoma. Note: If using dried white beans, allow time for them to soak overnight.Serves 6

  • 1 lb. of dried white beans or canned cannellini beans
  • 1 lb. of pork sausage
  • 4 confit duck legs (optional, but very good)
  • 1 lb. pork spareribs
  • 1/2 lb. unsmoked bacon
  • 1 leek, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 4-6 eggs


  1. If using dry white beans, soak them overnight in a pot of cold water. Skip this step if using canned beans.
  2. Cook sausage as directed and put aside in the refrigerator.
  3. If using duck confit, remove the meat from the fat in the packaging. Heat in the oven for 3 minutes until remaining fat has melted off, chop or shred the meat and then put it aside with sausage.
  4. Cut the spareribs into 4 pieces, add salt and pepper and put aside with other meats in the refrigerator.
  5. Sauté the chopped vegetables, herbs and one of the chopped garlic cloves in olive oil in a large pan. Cover with water and cook on medium heat for 1.5 hours. Stir occasionally.
  6. Drain the beans and add to the pan, along with the salt, pepper and remaining garlic. Cook for one hour at a slow simmer.
  7. Put the meats vegetable and beans into a greased baking dish. Cook in the oven at 325° F until there is no more liquid in the dish; this typically takes 1.25 to 1.5 hours.
  8. Remove from oven. Using the back of a large spoon, indent the top of casserole in 4-6 places to form "nests." Crack and place eggs in each nest and season with salt and pepper. Cover the baking dish and return to the oven until eggs reach desired doneness.

Related: Best Chocolate Shops In Sacramento

Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people.
Her work can be found at

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