For the first time in quite awhile, I let my creative juices flow in the kitchen. I had some ingredients in my apartment that would have been great in a breakfast casserole, and I haven’t been the best lately at bringing breakfast to work. It has been Dunkin’ pretty much every day. I wanted to step outside my breakfast routine and try something new. A strata was what came to mind. I’ve tried a few stratas before, but I had never made one myself.
A strata is basically a breakfast casserole made with bread, eggs, and cheese, plus often meat and/or veggies. When well-prepared, this brunch dish is pretty much like heaven on earth. Stratas are savory goodness with all the that check all the boxes for a great breakfast or brunch dish.
I sat down and thought of what I wanted in my strata and came up with the following recipe. I believe this recipe could be great for a crowd or even just for yourself as a meal prep. I was certainly hoping it would be good, because this is my breakfast for the week.
- one French bread loaf (can replaced by another soft loaf of bread)
- one pound bulk pork sausage
- 8 bacon strips
- one medium yellow onion, diced
- two tablespoons butter
- 12 large eggs
- two cups milk
- two cups shredded cheese (cheddar, Colby jack, or whatever you like)
- one teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut loaf of bread into one inch cubes and set aside. Chop onion into a small dice.
- Melt the two tablespoons of butter into a pan over medium heat. Once melted and slightly frothy, add the diced onion and cook until translucent (about 7 minutes). Turn down the heat if the onion starts to brown too quickly.
- While onion is cooking, begin cooking the bacon in two rounds to avoid overcrowding. Cook, flipping halfway through, until the bacon is crispy but not burnt. Once bacon is cooked, place on a plate lined with a paper towel to drain the grease.
- Meanwhile, once onion has browned, add the sausage and cook until browned, breaking down the sausage as it cooks. Season meat with one teaspoon dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of ground sage, plus salt and pepper to taste. Once the meat is browned, turn off heat and allow to cool for a minute.
- Once cooled, roughly chop the cooked bacon strips. Mix the bacon in with the sausage and onion mixture.
- Grease a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish. Layer half of the bread cubes in the pan and then top with half of the meat mixture. Sprinkle just under half of the shredded cheese on top. Repeat with the second layer, reserving some extra cheese for the top of the casserole.
- In a large bowl whisk together eggs and milk until yolks completely blended and mixture is smooth. Carefully pour the egg mixture over the bread, meat, and cheese. The whole mixture should fit in the dish, but be careful to not overfill. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top.
- Bake casserole for 45 minutes. If browning too quickly, cover casserole dish with foil. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.
I was so pleased with how this turned out. I don’t plan on having this carb heavy breakfast dish as part of my normal breakfast routine, but I certainly am enjoying this for breakfast this week. It is giving me the extra push I need to get through my last month of work at the law firm. The thyme and sage bring out great flavor in this savory dish. Everything about this dish reminds me of Easter brunch as a child at my Italian grandmother’s house.
I will absolutely be making this again next time I host a brunch at home. I can already think of some variations I’d love to try: ham and cheddar; chorizo and green chilles; tomato and mozzarella. Oh the possibilities!