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Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010 03:28 pm

Christmas strata

art8121

  • 1 lb. ham OR cooked sausages (such as Polish or smoked sausage) OR fresh sausage (such as breakfast sausage, bratwurst, Italian, or chorizo)
  • For a vegetarian version, substitute 1 lbs. cremini or button mushrooms, halved or quartered if large
  • 2T. unsalted butter
  • 3 c. chopped onions, not supersweet
  • 1 large or 2 small sweet red peppers, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic, or more or less to taste
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 c. half-and-half
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, or more or less to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher or sea salt (more or less to taste)
  • 1 c. chopped parsley, preferably flat-leaf, divided
  • 1-2 T. chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme or marjoram, either singly or in combination, optional
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne OR 1/2 tsp. hot-pepper flakes OR 1T. hot sauce, or more or less to taste, optional
  • 4 c. slightly stale, good-quality French or sourdough bread, cut into small cubes
  • 1 c. coarsely grated Swiss (preferably Gruyre), Cheddar, Pepper Jack, or Monterey
  • Jack cheese
Butter a 9-by-13-inch or similarly sized baking dish. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. If using the diced ham or sausage, sauté just until lightly browned. If using fresh sausage, sauté until it’s completely cooked through, chopping it into small pieces. If using mushrooms, stir-fry in a little oil over high heat, seasoning them with a little salt until they are browned and cooked through.

Remove from the pan and set aside. Leave any fat in the pan. Add the butter and, once it’s melted, add the onion and peppers. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are translucent and softened, about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook a few minutes more until it, too, is softened.

Remove the pan from the heat, return the meat or mushrooms to the skillet, and cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs until they are completely combined, then stir in the half-and-half. Add the pepper, salt, Parmesan cheese, half the parsley, and the other fresh herbs and hot pepper or sauce if using.

Stir in the bread cubes. Add the cooled meat/vegetable mixture and combine everything thoroughly. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish, cover it with plastic wrap or foil, and refrigerate the dish ove rnight.

Preheat the oven to 350. Remove the baking dish from the refrigerator and let it stand for about an hour to come to room temperature. Remove the foil or plastic wrap and sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top.

Bake for one hour, or until the top is golden brown, and a knife inserted into the strata comes out clean. If the top begins to get too brown, cover the dish with foil until baking is done. Just before serving, sprinkle the reserved peppers and parsley evenly over the top. Serves six to eight.
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