I had the pleasure of recently attending a brunch where I sampled the best strata I’d ever eaten. I am no “stata novice” as for a few years I made them every week for Saturday breakfast at my cafe. The one that was served at the brunch was simple-bacon and cheese-but it was so very light and I felt like I could have eaten the entire pan. I asked the hostess for her recipe, knowing that it would be the perfect do ahead dish for Christmas morning. She agreed to share, but being such a hectic time of year, she’s yet to send it to me.
How to make it so very light and fluffy? I figured that it must be the bread that she used. As I was cruising the aisles of Trader Joe’s, I spied a loaf of brioche and knew that it would be the perfect choice for my strata.
Bacon and Cheese Strata
4 slices thick cut applewood smoked bacon
5 large eggs
1 cup shredded cheese (I used a mixture of sharp cheddar and gruyere)
1 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
5-6 slices thickly-cut brioche
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Cook bacon over medium heat until crispy. Break into pieces. Whisk the eggs, milk and cream together. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Line oven proof dish (I used a 8″ X 10″ dish) with half of the bread. Sprinkle half of the bacon over, topped with half of the shredded cheese. Pour half of the egg mixture over bread.
Top with the rest of the bread. Sprinkle bacon and cheese over bread and pour remaining egg mixture over. Push down on bread with a spoon to make sure all the bread is saturated with the egg mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning remove from fridge and let sit at room temperature for about a half hour. You could also make this in the morning and let sit for about an hour before you bake it. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes until the strata looks puffy. Serve immediately. Serves:4
The beauty of the stata is that you can make it your own by varying the cheese and other ingredients. Instead of bacon, use cooked sausage or prosciutto. Add sauteed mushrooms or zucchini. In the summer I love to slice up ripe tomatoes and shred fresh basil. You can also vary the quantities to serve a larger group. It’s very forgiving and exact quantities aren’t necessary. Us your imagination and have fun!
Oh and I should admit that we pretty much ate the whole dish that really could serve four!