I don't know about you, but whenever I see the word "casserole" in the title of a recipe, I kind of lose interest. "Casserole" brings to mind cream of something soup-covered mushy vegetables mixed with overcooked rice and bland meat. This isn't that kind of casserole. When you put it together, it's actually a layered dish, but when you dish it out, it all combines. It ends up being a delicious jumble of hash brown potatoes, ham, egg, and cheese. I got it from Taste of Home.
Slow Cooker Hash Brown, Ham, and Egg Casserole
32 oz. frozen shredded hash browns, thawed and squeezed dry
3 cups ham, cubed
½ large onion, chopped
1½ cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup milk (2% or whole)
1 tsp salt
Layer a third of the potatoes (about 3 cups), ham, onion, and cheese in a 6 qt. slow cooker coated with cooking spray. Repeat layers twice. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and salt; pour over top.
Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to low; cook for 4½ to 5 hours or until a thermometer reads 160°.
Makes 8 servings.
The original recipe didn't call for thawing and drying the hash browns, but I noticed a large amount of liquid in the finished dish that I figure must have come from the thawing hash browns. It definitely wasn't grease, so I don't know what else it could have been. There was so much of it that I had to use a turkey baster to suck it out before serving. So next time I will definitely thaw the hash browns and make sure they are dry before adding to the crock.
Oh and you can use your favorite type of breakfast meat, not necessarily ham. The original recipe called for 1 lb. of cooked bacon, but I wanted to use up my leftover Easter ham. And while I definitely love bacon, ham is one of my favorite breakfast meats. I don't see any reason why you couldn't use cooked crumbled sausage either.
Oh, and a note about the onions: I have a hard time getting onions to cook all the way through in short cook-time dishes like this. I have a husband who doesn't like onions with any crunch to them, so they have to be completely soft. If I don't think they will get completely soft, I put them in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for a minute or two. This gets them partially soft so that they finish cooking in the slow cooker. That way I still get all the onion flavor, but without the crunch that my husband dislikes. If you're not that picky about onions, you can skip that step.
While this makes a lovely breakfast, it's probably best suited for breakfast-for-dinner or breakfast potluck applications because of the timing. Unless you want to get up at 2 or 3 am to put it all together and turn on the slow cooker. I made this for dinner on Friday and because it makes such a large batch, Jim and I both had it for breakfast Saturday and Sunday mornings, and I finished off the rest of it this morning. So if your jaw drops when you notice that this recipe calls for an entire dozen eggs, just remember that it makes a lot of servings. The original recipe called for using a 5 quart slow cooker, but I barely fit it all in my 6 quart.
Oh, and I don't know if you've tried the slow cooker liners that Reynolds makes. I LOVE those things. My sink is kind of small and I don't have a sprayer, so it is very difficult for me to wash out my slow cooker crock. I discovered these things and have been using them ever since. The only time I don't use them is if I am cooking for a potluck. Anyway, if you haven't tried them yet, this recipe is the perfect time to do so. Eggs and potatoes stick like crazy and I think this would be such a pain to clean up that it would discourage me from making it. So I highly recommend using the liners in this recipe. Otherwise, use lots of Pam!
Sometimes our church does a breakfast theme for evening potlucks during Advent and Lent, so this will be perfect for that.