Pecan pieces are candied on the stovetop for this hearty breakfast casserole.
4 tablespoons salted butter
2 cups pecan pieces (about 8 ounces)
1 cup plus 4 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup steel-cut oats
4 cups water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon baking powder
Melt the salted butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pecans and toss to coat. Add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon and the cayenne pepper, and stir until caramelized. Spread pecans on a wax-paper lined baking sheet to cool for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350º. Grease an 8-by-8-inch or 11-by-7-inch baking dish with unsalted butter and set aside.
Bring the quinoa, oats, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Reduce heat, add the rest of the cinnamon and 1 cup brown sugar, and stir. Let the mixture simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the water is absorbed into the grains, remove from heat, and let cool for 10 minutes.
Lightly beat the eggs and slowly add them to the quinoa and oats mixture, stirring constantly. Add the baking powder and 1 1/2 cups of the cooled candied pecans and mix well. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish, and sprinkle 2 tablespoons brown sugar on top. Bake, uncovered, 25 to 35 minutes or until bubbly and brown on top. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then serve with remaining candied pecans on top.
The pecans can be candied and stored in an air-tight container up to three days ahead. The quinoa and steel-cut oats can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Add eggs, baking powder, and candied pecans before baking.