It’s Saturday night and you know you’re not going to want to leave the house on Sunday morning. You love breakfast and going out to brunch sounds tempting, but we all need a day to just chill out in the morning. Making a trip to the grocery store? Might as well go out for brunch. So, here’s a great recipe that comes with the freedom of using what you got in your fridge and pantry.
This Brunch Strata just needs the basics and where you take it from there is up to you. It’s sort of like a savory bread pudding meets frittata. Next time you have eggs in the fridge and leftover bread from your favorite bakery, prepare this strata the night before and then simply bake it in the oven when you wake up in the morning. We all have that half an onion wrapped in cellophane in the far right side of the fridge. Maybe you have some spinach left in that bag that’s been rolled up like a newspaper or that last slice of Swiss cheese. There are no rules here. If it sounds good, go for it.
For me, I was able to use up a last leaf of kale I had, leftover onion from the other night, a couple different kinds of cheese from that time I bought too much cheese, and cubed ends of the country bread from Ibis Bakery. Don’t ask me why, but I had a half of a baked potato in my fridge. I used it too. The moral of the story is that if you don’t have sausage or that special paprika, don’t worry about it. Before you know it, you’ve made brunch with a little bit left over for the next morning, and completed a household chore of cleaning out your fridge.
4 cups of cubed bread, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about a 1/3 of a loaf of bread)
1 1/3 cups whole milk (2% will work just fine)
4 large eggs
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon paprika (smoked is even better)
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½-pound breakfast sausage, cooked and crumbled (mild or spicy)
3/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Suggested Optional Ingredients (The Fun Stuff):
4 pieces of cooked bacon, chopped
¼ cup sliced green onions
½ cup kale, chopped & sautéed over medium heat for about 2 minutes
½ onion, sliced and sautéed until soft
1/2 baked Russet potato, cubed into 1/2-inch pieces
Use a bread knife to cube the bread into 1/2” pieces, then set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, garlic, paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, black pepper, and salt.
Add the cubed bread to the bottom of a 2-quart oven safe pot, or 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Add cooked sausage, cheese, and any additional optional ingredients that you may have. Pour the egg mixture over the top, using a spoon to gently push any un-soaked bread down into the egg mixture. Cover pan with foil and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Remove the pan from refrigerator, uncover, and let sit at room temperature while the oven preheats. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The wider the pan, the less time needed to cook.
Serve hot and topped with any desired garnishes such as Greek yogurt or sour cream, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh sliced green onions.
Joe West is a chef from Kansas City, Missouri. You can follow him at @chefjoewest on Instagram & Twitter.