I’ve written about breakfast strata once before, which is why I declined Nick’s initial suggestion to photograph my process. But after cutting into and tasting this one, I was reminded how truly awesome a meal it is, and anything I can do to get more people making it is a good thing.
Strata (a fancy word for casserole, if I ever heard one) is a wonderful way to use up any odds and ends you may have sitting around in your fridge or on your counter. It’s best with day-old bread, and is extremely accommodating as far as flavors are concerned. Does it taste good with bread? It will be good in strata. Will it play well with eggs? It will make a good strata. I like to make it a square meal by including meat, cheese, and vegetables. Some of my favorite combinations: sausage, cheddar, and mushroom; bacon, apple, and gruyère; and serrano ham, caramelized onion, and manchego.
This one was born of an excess of bread and picnic leftovers from Bastille Day. Namely chorizo. I also had some leftover enchilada sauce. And a thing of cream that was about to go bad. Appropriate cheeses (cheddar and manchego) and vegetables (onions and hot peppers) were procured, and I constructed the dish on Saturday night for Sunday’s breakfast. Ok, brunch.
I spread the slices of bread with sauce and placed them in a layer in a baking dish. I topped this with deeply caramelized onions and peppers, followed by layers of chorizo and cheese. Another layer of sauced bread went on top, and the rest of the vegetables. I held off on the rest of the cheese for the moment. Then I whisked together some cream, milk, and eggs and slowly poured it over the top. (I don’t use a recipe and you don’t need to either – just make enough for the bread to soak up. It’s ok if there’s a little extra, but if there isn’t, just whip up a little more custard, or do as I’ve done and pour more cream on top.) This I covered in plastic wrap and weighted down very gently before letting it rest in the fridge overnight.
In the morning, I removed the plastic wrap – duh – topped it with the remaining cheese, and covered the dish with foil. I baked it at 350F for a little over an hour, removing the foil about 45 minutes in so the cheese could get nice and brown. You’ll know it’s done when it starts to puff up. Let it cool as long as you can stand. If you’re like me, this is 15 minutes, maximum, just long enough for it to not burn your mouth when you eat it.
And there you have it. Yes, there’s a bit of time investment and planning ahead, but when the majority of the time is hands-off and the result is so incredibly satisfying, it’s hard to say it’s not worth it.
This particular enchilada-esque strata actually pulled double duty – we ate it for brunch with slices of juicy melon, and again for dinner a few days later with a crisp green salad on the side. Now I want to make one every week.
On this day in 2008: The Great Duo of Avocado and Shrimp (There’s a kickass gazpacho recipe)
Originally published on Croque-Camille.