All in the Family

Give yourself the greatest gift of all this Christmas morning—time.

Summer, 2021 / No. 47
Brian Francis

Let’s face it—the holidays can be a chaotic time for even the most organized people. There are living room windows that need to be spray-snowed, tinsel to be delicately strung, strand by strand, on the artificial tree, and all those presents that have to be wrapped using masking tape (once you discover your Scotch tape has run out). And then there’s the food! Cheese balls that must be lovingly rolled in chopped nuts, shortbread cookies requiring the intricate placement of maraschino cherry slivers, and rings of shrimp that require careful dethawing. Throw some rum-and-eggnog cocktails, a pumpkin pie, and a forty-seven-pound turkey into the mix and it’s no wonder many of us can barely muster the energy to return all of our gifts on Boxing Day.

Thankfully, I’m here to the rescue. Or should I say, the Royal Bank employees behind the Royal Recipes: For the Love of Tiny Hearts community cookbook are here to the rescue. This recipe for Christmas Morning Wife Saver is easy to prepare, full of flavour, and guaranteed to give you the most precious gift of all this holiday season: time. In spite of its sexist name, you don’t have to be a wife to make this dish. A husband, an aunt, a distant third cousin, or even an elf could pull it off. If you know how to make a sandwich, you’re laughing. It’s that easy. 

What I appreciate about Christmas Morning Wife Saver is its thoughtfulness. Christmas breakfast rarely gets the care and attention it deserves. Everything is always about opening presents, checking to see if Santa took the carrots for his reindeer, and eating full boxes of Toffifee by 10 a.m. while wondering why your onesie is feeling a little snugsie. But that’s the glory of this recipe.

Christmas Morning Wife Saver is essentially a strata made with bread, eggs, ham, and whole milk that you assemble the night before and bake in the morning, after adding a topping of crushed Corn Flakes and melted butter—because who couldn’t use more butter over the holiday season? 

A note: The recipe calls for a scattering of diced green pepper on top, but I also added red pepper. It’s important to use every opportunity available to add red and green accents on as many foods as you can at this festive time of year. You could also use pimento, sliced cherry tomatoes, or even chopped up chilies, if your family rolls that way. However, I would not use red maraschino cherries. Because cherries and Worcestershire sauce. The recipe also calls for a pound of shaved ham. I used a four-hundred-gram package, which seemed more than enough.

In terms of taste, Christmas Morning Wife Saver is guaranteed to put the jingle in your bells. It’s cheesy, salty, and hammy, and the Corn Flake topping provides a perfect crunch. It will taste all the better as you watch the rest of your household tear into it quicker than they tear into their presents. All you’ll have to do is sit back in the new velour robe you’ll be returning on the twenty-sixth and savour a small moment of grace. While trying not to think about the forty-seven-pound bird waiting in your fridge. 

Christmas Morning Wife Saver

Ingredients

16 slices of bread, crusts removed
1 pound shaved ham
450-gram package of cheddar cheese, grated
6 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
6 shakes Tabasco sauce
3 cups whole milk
¼ cup minced onion
¼ cup finely diced green pepper
¼ cup finely diced red pepper
½ cup butter
1/3 cup crushed Corn Flakes 

Directions

1. In a buttered nine-by-thirteen-inch glass baking dish, lay out 8 slices of bread. Don’t overlap. 

2. In layers, spread ham and then cheese evenly over bread. Top with remaining bread, making it look like a sandwich.

3. In bowl, beat eggs, salt, pepper, dry mustard, Worcestershire, Tabasco, and milk together. 

4. Pour mixture evenly over top of sandwiches. 

5. Spread onion and peppers over top. 

6. Press down to wet bread with the egg mixture. 

7. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

8. In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt butter and pour over top of dish. Sprinkle crushed Corn Flakes on evenly. 

9. Bake, uncovered, for one hour. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.