This is my new favorite holiday brunch entree. Not that it is strictly for the holidays, because, really, it is just a breakfast. But since holidays tend to involve more entertaining, I thought that this would be a good “holiday” brunch. And really, this is a meal that can be eaten for lunch or dinner too. So it’s not just for breakfast either. Maybe the title should just be “food”?
MOVING ALONG….this egg strata is delicious. It’s an egg dish, but it uses bread, which gives the dish a kind of custardy feel. It is not the easiest recipe (but if you know me, you know that I am not a gourmet chef, so it can’t be THAT complicated). But most of the preparation is done in advance, which makes it easy. Kinda like a crock pot — you prepare, wait, and serve! That easy!
The strata I love is spinach, gruyere, and onions, but honestly, you can add anything you want in it and I am sure it would be heaven. The good Jew that I am, I added ham last weekend to our strata, and it was hog heaven.
(Note: you need to prepare this dish the night before you want to serve it)
* 1 package frozen OR fresh spinach (whatever you have in stock)
* 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (1 large)
* 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (but if you are like me, you will not measure and use half as much as the recipe calls for)
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
* 8 cups cubed (1 inch) French or Italian bread (1/2 lb)
* 6 oz coarsely grated Gruyère (2 cups)
* 2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (not necessary)
* 2 3/4 cups milk (any kind — whole, 2%, skim, soy, or almond)
* 9 large eggs
* 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
NOTE: THE KEY INGREDIENTS ARE THE NUTMEG, THE DIJON, AND THE GRUYERE. So you can smudge on the amounts of the other ingredients, but these three items are *KEY* in making a kick-butt holiday breakfast egg strata! In terms of the bread, I have found that ciabatta is the best, because it is doughy in the middle and doesn’t have a lot of crust (you remove the crust- otherwise it does not turn into a custard). The nutmeg makes it smooth and exotic, and dijon gives it a nice kick. So even if these ingredients sound a little iffy, TRUST me, sista.
Cook onion in butter in a large pan over moderate heat, stirring, until soft and transluecent. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg and cook, stirring, 1 minute. (WHO ACTUALLY USES THE EXACT TIMES RECIPES GIVE???? I always do ten things at once, and always overcook everything. The best thing about this strata: IT DOES NOT MATTER!) Stir in spinach, then remove from heat.
Spread one third of bread cubes (CRUST IS REMOVED) in a buttered (Pam’d) dish and top evenly with one third of spinach mixture. Sprinkle with one third of each cheese. Repeat layering twice (ending with cheeses).
Whisk together milk, eggs, mustard, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and pour evenly over strata. Chill strata, covered with plastic wrap, at least 8 hours (for bread to absorb custard).
Preheat oven to 350°F. Let strata stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
Bake strata, uncovered, in middle of oven until the aroma makes you so hungry you could die. Make sure it is cooked through (45 to 55 minutes). Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
The goal is for the bread and egg to become a custard, which will happen if you use the correct bread, and right amount of eggs/milk. Don’t add too much to the combination, or there might not be enough egg to cover the mixture.
As mentioned before, you can actually use ANY milk. And no one will know it. So if you are lactose intolerant like me but still eat cheese (and I wonder why my tummy still hurts all the time??), then almond milk will be a perfect option for you!
ENJOY this holiday treat!
ENJOY the weekend!
— AYN, aka the Josie Girl