Sweet Italian Christmas bread (if you have any leftover!) gets the French toast treatment and is served with spiced sausage patties.
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
- About 3 tablespoons white vermouth or white wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons AP flour
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse black pepper, 1/3 palmful
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, half a palmful
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground sage
- 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1/3 palmful
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed (or fennel pollen)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- A sprinkle of light brown sugar or sugar, 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 2 cups half-and-half or heavy cream
- 5 eggs
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 8 slices panettone bread, about 1 ¼-inch-thick, about 4x5 or 4x6 (or 8 slices challah bread, 1-inch-thick slices)
- 1 stick melted butter
- 1 1/2 cups honey or maple syrup, warmed
- Chopped toasted hazelnuts or sliced almonds
- Finely chopped rosemary
- Lemon and/or orange zest
For sausage, in a small ramekin, dissolve the baking soda and water. Place pork in a bowl, add vermouth or vinegar, baking soda slurry, sprinkle flour over the meat, then paprika, add garlic, salt, pepper, sage, onion, red pepper, fennel, oregano, sugar and EVOO. Form 8 small, 3-inch wide, thin patties and cook in cast-iron or nonstick skillet 3 minutes on each side.
For French toast, whisk up half-and-half or cream and eggs, then add sugar and almond and vanilla extract. Whisk in nutmeg.
Heat a griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Melt butter in pan or microwave. Dip 3-4 slices of bread in custard mixture at a time. Butter the griddle and cook toast slowly to deeply golden brown. Warm the honey or syrup. Brush cooked toast with extra butter and top with honey or syrup. Garnish (optional) with nuts and rosemary and zest. Serve sausage patties alongside.