Bacon Breakfast Strata
May 6, 2011
Though brunch provides the allure of a relaxed meal to share with friends and family, casually sipping on Bloody Marys, the harsh reality is that someone has to get all the food ready to eat early in the morning. Beside being insanely delicious and versatile, stratas assemble the night before, so serving a crowd in the morning is a cinch! In our family, we routinely have overnight gatherings and I often make a strata. All the work is done the day before. Sometimes I even put the oven on delay start, so it will preheat while I sleep. When I wake up in the morning with a house full of guests, all I have to do is slide the dish into the oven and make some coffee.
You can make a strata with almost anything. The eggs and bread are standard, but the vegetables, cheese, or meat that you add are completely up to you. Bacon Breakfast Strata happens to be one of my favorite combinations. Brown off the bacon, saute the onion and mushrooms, then mix everything up with a pile of bread and cheese and pour egg and milk over the top. It is easy. The bread absorbs the egg and milk overnight and puffs up in the oven. The interior texture is light and almost creamy, while the top browns and creates a cheesy crunch. It is delightful.
Makes a 9 x 13 inch casserole
1 pound crusty bread (pugliese or batards work well), diced
1/2 pound bacon, cut into lardons
1 cup red onion, quartered and cut into 3/8 inch slices
1 cup sliced mushrooms, I used crimini
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 quart lowfat milk
1 teaspoon salt
Brown bacon in large frying pan. Remove to paper towel lined plate to drain. Pour off all but 2 Tablespoons of the bacon fat. Reserve the fat in a jar in the refrigerator for future use. Saute onion and mushrooms in bacon pan over medium heat until they are softened and begin to brown. Remove onions and mushrooms from the pan and set aside.
Gently beat eggs with a whisk. Add milk and salt. Whisk to combine.
In a large bowl, combine bread, browned bacon, onions, mushrooms, and grated cheese. Toss to mix.
Butter a 9 x 13 inch casserole pan. Fill pan with the bread mixture. Pour egg mixture over the top of the bread. Gently press any floating bread down into the mix. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate 8 hours to overnight.
In the morning…
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove plastic wrap and bake strata for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes until the top is nicely browned and the egg sets in the center. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut and serve.
Alternatively, you can bake the strata in individual ramekins or muffin tins. They will bake in closer to 30-40 minutes.
Note: The baking time is dependent on the size of the dish and the temperature of the strata when it enters the oven. I find it is better to put it in the oven a little on the early side. If it is done before you are ready to eat, cover it with foil to keep warm. The strata is also delicious cold, perhaps sliced up for a treat later in the day, or a leftover dinner with a simple salad.
Here is a printer friendly version of this recipe: Bacon Breakfast Strata
This recipe is linked to Yeastspotting.
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