Holiday Breakfast Strata

I probably first heard of "breakfast strata" about 10 years ago when a sophisticated family friend served it for brunch. As a geographer's daughter well-aware of the study of stratigraphy, a layered breakfast of eggs and bread and whatever else sounded exactly right.

For the past few years I've been making a breakfast strata on Christmas Eve to heat & eat on Christmas morning. So far I haven't been following a firm recipe, but I'm ready to commit this year. They're always a hit!

  • 1/2 pound (or more) of breakfast sausage (I use our co-op's sausage which isn't in casings)
  • about 8 slices of your favorite crusty bread (whole wheat or white)
  • 8 ounces grated fontina cheese (or more)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • salt & pepper (used an herbed or garlic salt if you like)

  1. Fry up sausage and make sure it's in little bits. (If you're using links, I guess you should cut them up at some point)
  2. Place half the bread in the bottom of a glass baking dish--I used an 8 x 11.5 dish. Just use enough pieces to make a fairly covered layer. A few gaps are OK.
  3. Sprinkle one-third to one-half of the cooked sausage, and the same fraction of grated cheese over the bread.
  4. Repeat with more bread to make another layer, then the rest of the sausage and the rest of the cheese.
  5. Beat the eggs with a fork and then add milk, scallions, and salt & pepper. Whisk all together.
  6. Pour the egg-milk mixture over the ingredients in the dish. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  7. In the morning, preheat oven to 350˚. Remove covering from strata and bake about 30-35 minutes (you should see bubbling in the bottom through the glass dish).
  8. Let cool slightly before serving. You can also hold it in the oven (with heat turned off) for up to an hour if you are expecting guests soon.
This was really yummy! The point of the crusty bread is not so much the crust but the nice yeasty loft and open structure you get from a bakery bread--unlike a loaf of sandwich bread that is thick and would probably turn out pudding-y.

Happy Christmas to all! Do you have an easy go-to breakfast for Christmas morning? When I was a kid it was often Sara Lee coffee cake. Mmmm.


ValleyWriter said...

My mom always makes a casserole similar to this for Christmas breakfast. It's delicious & so reminds me of home. This year, we were cooking Christmas dinner, so we didn't have time for a big breakfast. A bagel and some Christmas cookies did the trick ;-)
Hope you & the fam had a very Merry Christmas!

Wade Snyder said...

It was always scrambled eggs, bacon and some kind of buckle (the buckle made earlier and re-heated) for our family. Then my mom switched to pancakes on Christmas morning. In my family today, we open presents on Christmas Eve, after dinner, as my ancestors did, and as my wife's family has always done (Danish and German roots for both of us). Christmas Eve dinner is something seafood, with nice wine to go with. This year we had a mussel bisque. In the morning, Santa brings kiddie stuff, so we have Americanized the Christmas morning a bit. Having presents opened on Christmas Eve kind of relieves the tension and then the next morning is all kiddie focused.

"Prof. Kitty" said...

Thanks VW, hope you had a merry merry too!! I hope your Christmas dinner went well,