Ever since the first time I saw the movie The Family Stone (which, incidentally, I now watch every Christmas), I’ve wanted to make a Strata for Christmas. My grandma sent me this recipe months ago. But nothing less than Christmas seemed like the right holiday to test this recipe.
- 8 oz medium cheddar cheese, shredded
- 4 to 5 c. cubed Ciabatta bread
- 10 extra-large eggs (we used brown, organic)
- 1 to 2 c. whole milk
- 2 c. half and half
- 1 tsp. dry mustard
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. onion powder
- 1 lb thick sliced bacon
- 8 oz sliced crimini mushrooms
- 1 shallot chopped
- freshly grated pepper
- Cook the bacon in a large skillet until desired doneness. Remove from the pan and pat dry with paper towels. Let cool and chop. Remove most of the bacon grease from the skillet – reserve a tablespoon or two. Saute sliced mushrooms and chopped shallot until the mushrooms have shrunk slightly, about five minutes. Let cool while you begin to layer the Strata.
- Grease a 9×13 inch or 11×15 inch Pyrex pan. I like to use the end of a butter stick for this. Lop off about a tablespoon keeping the wrapper on the butter. That way you don’t get butter all over your fingers when greasing the pan.
- Sprinkle bread, then half of the shredded cheese and bacon on the bottom of the baking dish. Add mushrooms and shallots.
- Beat eggs, milk, half and half, mustard, salt and onion powder. Pour over bread mixture.
- Sprinkle with remaining cheese and black pepper for a little bit of color.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 24 hours. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Let cool for 10 or so minutes before serving.
If you live in the greater-Portland area, New Seasons has the best bacon I’ve found when your recipe calls for chopped bacon. Order bacon ends and pieces from the meat counter. It’s about $2.50 a pound which is significantly cheaper than sliced bacon from your local grocery store. The ends and pieces come exactly as the name indicates – in ends and pieces. I love this part of the meat because you can control how big you make the pieces. I like mine thick and cubed. Even if the meat looks fatty, you can cook the crap out of it until it’s a dark golden brown color.
Trader Joe’s also offers bacon ends and pieces, but I have never had much luck when buying theirs. It’s not the highest of quality, which is probably what one might expect out of bacon ends and pieces. You could probably ask the butcher at any meat counter in any grocery store for this – though I never have.
To my knowledge I’ve never before had Strata, but you can bet I’ll be making this recipe – or some variation of it – for years to come. It is the perfect holiday breakfast/brunch.
It’s fun to watch the eggs puff while this dish cooks. The eggs seem to overtake the bread as you can barely taste the bread in the finished product. My only complaint was that it seemed to need a bit more salt – though Dad said it was salty enough for his palate.