Get the upper hand with a Strata. A gem of a savory, four-food group, all in one dish, perfect for a make-ahead breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner.
Think of a strata as an inside out quiche where instead of a crust on the outside, you have day-old bread on the inside soaking up a glorious, rich egg custard.
Stratas are extremely adaptable. You can swap out meats (or no meat), cheeses, vegetables and herbs. Use up your existing ingredients (e.g., my recent wedding reception cheese, salumi and bread) or buy fresh ingredients for the express purpose of this dish. As long as you keep the egg, milk, cream, and cheese proportions, the rest is up to you!
This recipe makes a large amount, for a 13 x 9 pan. If you happen to have left over batter, try filling muffin tins to make mini stratas. This recipe easily scales up or down if you want to half or double it. Additionally, it freezes beautifully once cooked, either as a tightly wrapped whole pan, or individual pieces.
Here’s the recipe:
- 10 – 12 slices day old, hardy bread (French or Italian works well), cut into 1-inch cubes
- 12 large eggs
- 4 cups milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 10 ounces sausage or other cooked or cured meat (any salumi, cubed ham, turkey or chicken)
- 4 cups shredded hard cheese (Gouda or fontina work well)
- 4 scallions, chopped
- 2 roasted bell peppers (peeled and de-seeded). Make your own, or from a jar, drained and patted dry is fine
- 1/2-pound (8 ounces) asparagus (or broccoli, broccoli rabe, or cauliflower.)
- 2 teaspoons chopped herbs (any one or a mix of oregano, sage, thyme, or half the amount of rosemary)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher (not table) salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Cut up day-old bread into 1-inch cubes and place in a large bowl
- If using raw sausage, heat a medium sauté pan and brown the sausage. Drain any excess fat and add the crumbled sausage to the bread cubes. Otherwise add other chopped cooked or cured meet to the bread bowl
- In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and cream. Pour the egg mixture over the bread and sausage
- Chop the scallions, bell peppers, asparagus (or other vegetable) and add them to the bread and egg mixture
- Grate 4 cups of cheese and add 3 of the cups to the bread and egg mixture, reserving the 4th cup of cheese
- Add salt and pepper and thoroughly mix. Cover and refrigerate for least 6 hours (or overnight) ahead of baking time to let the bread soak up the egg and milk mixture
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F (177C)
- Butter or oil a 13 x 9 inch (33 X 23 cm) pan. Pour the strata batter into the pan and top with the remaining 1 cup of cheese
- Bake until golden brown and cooked through, 60-70 minutes. It will puff up a bit, and as it cools, it will fall. Let it stand for 15 minutes before serving