Every year, my family makes a big Christmas day dinner. (It is essentially Thanksgiving part 2 of the year.) In order to fuel ourselves to put in the long days work of cooking, we need to have a breakfast of champions. Normally, I’d say bust out the wheaties or cream of wheat, but it’s Christmas day, so we need something a bit more special. In years past, my Mom has made cinnamon rolls, but here is a little secret…I don’t really like cinnamon rolls…I know that everyone else does, so go ahead and judge me! We also have had the Italian cake Pandoro in the past (which is rather tasty!), but I’d rather have a savory breakfast treat. So I took over, with the help of sous chef Joe, and we made an Italian dish called Strata.
Strata is a great dish to make for a busy day of cooking, like Thanksgiving or your Christmas meal, because you prepare it all the day before and just stick it in the oven in the morning to cook. Strata in Italian means “layers,” which probably means the recipe I’m sharing with you isn’t quite a strata. Normally, you’d make layers of the various ingredients and then pour a mixture of milk and eggs on top. For this recipe, we just mixed everything together, so like I said, technically not a strata, but it works!
Directions: Butter a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish. Prepare all of your ingredients. Peel and finely chop the yukon potatoes. Also finely chop half of a yellow onion and the 6 slices of bacon. Keep the potatoes, onion, and bacon together.
Use a damp paper towel to wipe the top of the portobello. Finely chop the portobello. Also finely chop the sage and keep with the portobello.
Next cut off a 6 oz hunk of a baguette of your choice. We used a fresh french loaf. Slice the bread in half inch slices, and cut each slice into half inch cubes. If you don’t have a scale, 6 oz cubed bread looks like 3-4 C. Just estimate it.
Measure the milk into a large bowl. Crack all of the eggs into the milk and whisk well to make sure all of the yolks are broken. Finally chop the parsley and grate the mozzarella if necessary. Mix in the parsley and mozzarella into the milk-egg mixture. Set aside for now.
Heat a large frying pan (at least 10″) with the 2 T olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the potatoes, onion, and bacon and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sage. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove the mixture from heat.
Toss in the bread cubes until they have soaked up all of the oils from the pan. Spread the bread cube mixture into the greased casserole pan.
Pour the milk-egg mixture over the bread cubes evenly, taking care to evenly distribute the cheese and parsley.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. And you’re done for the night. Now it’s time to go to bed and wait for Santa to visit! Once Santa has come and gone (and your super slow sister is on her way from Orange County), it is time to stick this strata in the oven. Pull the strata out of the fridge to warm up for at least 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Once the pan has had enough to warm up and the oven is hot, stick the pan in the oven. Bake the strata for 50-60 minutes. Your baking time might increase or decrease based on what type of casserole dish you use (glass, metal, cast iron, etc) and how cold the pan was when you set it in the oven. The strata is done baking when it has puffed up, the eggs have set, and the top has turned golden brown. Ours actually took 70 minutes to finish, but my folks have a very cold fridge.
This recipe is completely adaptable, so if you want to use sausage instead of bacon or if you want to add a different vegetable, like bell peppers or spinach, go for it!
Merry Christmas and Enjoy!