Mushroom and Bacon Strata

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Serves 4:

So what is Strata you ask? We’ll think of it as a savory bread pudding. You’ve got all the basics of the desert with the eggs, milk and bread but rather than going sweet we go savory by adding earthy mushrooms, smoky bacon and creamy cheese. Oh yeah…this is a serious and hearty dish. Although it’s generally a brunch thing, you could serve this up any time of day. It’s not a quick recipe but so worth it on lazy Sundays or sleep-in Saturdays. Plus it can be prepped ahead so there’s another plus. The base recipe is flexible as well. Try any sort of mushroom from white to wild. Don’t like ‘em…consider broccoli or asparagus. Change up the cheese! Any kind of cheese that melts well would be tasty… Swiss, Manchego or even a good old Monterey jack. If you don’t care for bacon, try chorizo, ham or even deli turkey instead. And for my veggie peeps leave it out altogether or try any soy/veggie protein. FYI…Whole Foods has a killer meatless chorizo. This is one of my favorite recipes and I hope you like it as well.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 8 oz. of sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 4 – 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 4 cups of cubed whole grain bread (preferably day old)
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1 cup of Gruyère cheese
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 – 2 tbsp of EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp paprika

Prep It:

  • Heat a 12 inch skillet over medium heat.
  • Rinse the thyme and set the sprigs on a paper or kitchen towel to dry.
  • Cut the bread into 1 inch cubes.
  • Grate the cheese and set aside.
  • Slice the bacon into ½ inch pieces.
  • Mince the garlic finely.
  • In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper and paprika.

Cook It:

  • Add the bacon to the heated skillet and cook until crispy. Remove from skillet and set on a paper towel to drain. Leave the bacon grease in the skillet.
  • Add EVOO to the pan until you have about 2 – 3 tbsp of oil / grease. Add the mushrooms and thyme (don’t strip the leaves just toss them in stems and all) and toss to coat. Separate the mushrooms so they don’t overlap and be sure they’re not overcrowding the pan so they brown nicely. Just as they’re starting to brown, add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes stirring constantly to keep it from burning. Remove the mushrooms and set them on a plate or over the bacon. Ditch the thyme…it’s done its job.
  • In an 8’’ baking pan, assemble the strata. Start by half the bread, sprinkle with half the cheese, half the mushrooms and half the bacon. Add the remaining bread on top and cover with the remaining cheese, mushrooms and bacon. Next pour the egg mixture on top and let it set in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven. Note: You can make this overnight and bake it up in the am. Just cover it up well and let it sit out while you preheat the oven.
  • Bake the strata until it’s puffed and golden; approximately 30 – 40 minutes. The custard should be set meaning it might move slightly when you shake it but won’t jiggle like jello. Let it cool for a couple of minutes before cutting and serving.

Serve It:

    • Slice it up and serve it with a side of fruit or some green veggies.
    • Add a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt on top for extra richness.
    • For an extra special treat swap out half the milk for evaporated milk. Seriously decadent!

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