Breakfast is one of my favorite meals of the day. It is important as it helps get your metabolism started early in the day and restores glucose levels. But the thing I enjoy the most about breakfast is that it is so good and easy to make.
A co-worker of mine gave me a loaf of Italian bread and I immediately knew I wanted to make strata with it. Strata basically consist of bread, cheese, and egg custard. You can also add other ingredients like bacon, ham, turkey and/or vegetables. But the real beauty of the strata is that it requires day old bread. This can include French bread, English Muffins, Sourdough bread or any kind of bread you may have. Once I discovered how to make strata, I stopped throwing out stale dry bread and instead salvage it for a good breakfast (or even dinner as it can be very hardy).
A strata is best when made the night before. It needs to be refrigerated overnight so that it can allow the bread to soak up the egg-milk mixture, which will result in a fluffy bread pudding consistency. It also needs day old or dry bread, which can easily be done by placing the bread slices in the oven on a baking sheet and toasting in a 200 degree F oven for 15 minutes. It is also best to use whole milk or half-and-half for a richer strata.
Mexican Style Strata
10 slices sourdough French bread, cut in large cubes (I used Italian bread as shown in picture)
3 cups Monterrey Jack cheese (Or use any cheese. I used mozzarella in picture)
2 cups cubed cooked chicken breast (optional)
2 cups medium salsa
1 cup sliced green onions
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
4 large eggs
2 1/4 cups whole milk
1 can (4 ounces) diced green chiles, drained (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
Guacamole and sour cream for topping (optional)
1. In a lightly sprayed or oil a 9-by-13 inch baking dish or casserole dish, arrange the bread. It is ok if the bread overlaps. Sprinkle a generous layer of cheese, chicken (optional), salsa, green onions, and beans.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs with milk, chiles (optional), salt, and pepper to taste. Egg-milk mixture evenly on top of bread. Cover and refreigerate overnight.
3. Remove strata from fridge and set aside for 10 minutes or until room temperature. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes uncovered. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve with guacamole and sour cream.
Source: The Big Book of Breakfast: Serious Comfort Food for Any Time of the Day