Serves: Makes 8 servings
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, cut into ¼ inch dice
- ½ cup red bell pepper, seeded and cut into ¼ inch dice, or substitute with a vegetable of your choice
- 8 ounces ground pork breakfast sausage
- 8 ounces smoked baked ham, cut into ¼-inch dice
- 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves
- 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded
- 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated
- 8 cups Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup whole milk
- ½ teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 ½ teaspoons Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (for greasing the baking dish)
- Non-stick cooking spray
- Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish
Procedures:Stratas are layered baked egg dishes typically made with milk soaked bread, meats, cheese and vegetables. They are the perfect make-ahead meal because the strata needs to sit for at least 4 hours or overnight before baking. This ensures evenly soaked bread, optimal flavor, and a light and fluffy texture.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion and red bell pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring often with a wooden spoon. Add the pork sausage and cook, breaking up any large pieces with the wooden spoon. Cook the sausage until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the ham and fresh thyme leaves. Transfer to a large bowl to cool.
Once the meat mixture has cooled to room temperature, add the Gruyere, Parmesan and cubed bread to the meat mixture. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, ground mustard, salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the meat and bread mixture and gently fold all the ingredients together, using a silicone spatula. Cover the strata mixture with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees and place a rack in the center. Butter a large glass or ceramic baking dish (9x13). Transfer the strata mixture to the buttered baking dish, smoothing the top with a silicone spatula. Allow the strata to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking. Spay a large sheet of foil with nonstick cooking spray and cover the baking dish. Bake the strata for 30 minutes, remove the foil, and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until the strata is lightly browned and a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.
To serve: The baked strata can be served hot, or can be kept covered at room temperature for up to 1 hour. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve directly from the dish or portioned into squares.