Savory Breakfast Strata
Every Easter morning, we go to my brother and sister-in-law’s home for brunch. It is a fun time of getting together and celebrating Easter. There can be anywhere between 25-35 people milling around talking and eating. If there ever was such a thing as a groaning table, this one is it. The food is amazing. We have the usual, sausage, bacon, eggs with cheese and herbs. There are biscuits and cinnamon rolls and cupcakes. Deviled eggs, coffee cakes, ham, fruit salads, cheese and crackers, candy and cookies. I was asked to bring the breakfast strata once again because it was such a hit last year. I think we all have had similar stratas, but this one is adapted from Pam Anderson’s Perfect Recipes for Having People Over cookbook. It is so go and so rich with flavors. It is great for breakfast or brunch anytime of the year.
1 quart half-and-half
12 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
12-14 slices fluffy white bread
1 pound of meat or seafood and 1 pound of vegetables (I use bulk sausage and red, orange and yellow bell peppers)
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions (about 3)
12 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about three cups)
Brown or cook any meat. Saute` vegetables in a small amount of olive oil until soft, set aside.
Whisk half-and-half, eggs, salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl until smooth.
Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with vegetable cooking spray. Line bottom of baking dish with 6 slices of bread. If necessary, cut strips and fit them into any gaps. If using meat and/and or vegetables, scatter half of each over bread, then sprinkle with half the scallions and half the cheese. Pour 1 cup of egg mixture over bread. Make another layer with remaining bread, cutting strips of bread to fill any spaces as necessary. Top with remaining meat and vegetables, scallions and cheese. Slowly pour remaining egg mixture over bread.
Cover strata with plastic wrap. Lightly weight strata and let stand for a least 15 minutes.
Adjust over rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Bake strata until custard is just set, about 50 minutes. Leaving baking dish on oven rack, turn on broiler and broil until strata is spotty brown and puffy, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 8 to 10 minutes before cutting.
I make the strata the night before and refrigerate. You do not need to weigh it down if you do this. Also, if you make it the night before, be sure to bring it up to room temperature before baking.