SERVES 8 TO 12
Brown the sausage in a skillet over medium heat, using a wooden spoon to break it up into pieces. Drain off excess fat and transfer the sausage to a large mixing bowl.
In the same skillet over medium heat, add the oil and sauté the onion until translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the hash browns and cook undisturbed until lightly browned underneath, about 5 minutes. With a spatula, flip the mixture over and cook 5 minutes longer.
Add this hash brown mixture to the sausage. Add the grated cheese and bread cubes and stir together thoroughly.
In another mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, syrup, mustard powder, salt, and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over the sausage-potato mixture. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. In the morning, leave at room temperature for 30 minutes while preheating the oven to 350°F. Spoon the mixture into a lightly buttered casserole dish and bake until bubbling and browned, 40 to 45 minutes. Let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes before serving.
Every two summers in August, my extended family of 80 or more people assembles at the homestead, “Murphy’s Corner,” and other family homes in Woolwich, Maine to participate in what we call the Family Olympics. This event consists of two teams of all ages, from 5 to 85 years, competing in events like the 3-mile walk/bike /run to Route 1, volleyball, swim races, flower show, cooking contest, and so on. The one-day event kicks off with a New York Times Crossword Puzzle competition at the Hookers’ house. Before this ferocious battle begins, Sarah Hooker prepares the most delicious breakfast casserole. Many participants who are not particularly gifted in crossword puzzles just come for Sarah’s incredible breakfast dish, inspired by a Southern Living recipe.
1 pound breakfast sausage, casings removed
1 medium-large onion, diced
3 tablespoons cooking oil
6 cups oven-toasted bread cubes, preferably brioche cut into ¾-inch cubes
6 cups frozen store-bought hash brown potatoes, thawed
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
6 large eggs
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce