A strata is an egg-bread-milk-cheese dish that you make the night before, refrigerate, then bake in time for brunch. “Strata,” in the lingo of geologists, means ‘layers.” However, instead of "layers" (slices of bread), you can have a "landslide’ strata with “boulders” (cubes of bread) strewn around.
For those who don’t like long directions:
Butter some bread slices, and lay them in a greased casserole dish. Put some shredded cheese (lots) on top of the bread. You could add crumbled cooked sausage or some finely chopped veggies. Beat up 2 to 3 cups of milk and about 8 eggs w/salt/pepper. Pour over the top. Cover with foil, refrigerate o’nite. Next morning, remove cover and bake about an hour at 350 degrees.
For you who LIKE long, detailed directions, read on:
Butter a 13x9” baking dish; you can also make a strata in smaller bakeware, even individual stratas in custard cup-type containers. In any case, butter whatever container you’re using.
1) Day-old bread, enough slices to make two layers in your bakeware, or, if using bread that you’ve cut into approximately 1-inch cubes, you’ll want about 5 cups of lightly packed cubes.
2) ½ cup of butter, or enough to lightly cover one side of the bread (it’s much easier to melt the butter and spread it on the bread with a wide pastry brush)
3) 2 cups or more of shredded cheese (Cheddar, Gouda . . . any cheese will work). If not adding any meats or veggies, you can go up to 4 cups of cheeses. If desired, you can include a cup of cooked sausage, ham, bacon, or finely sliced wieners. Also, if desired, you can add a cup of sautéed chopped onions, red or green pepper, fresh or thawed frozen spinach
4) 3 ½ cups of half-and-half (regular milk will work as well)
5) 8- 9 eggs
6) 1 teaspoon of salt
7) ½ teaspoon of pepper
If using slices of bread, put the first layer of buttered bread in the bottom of the baking dish(es), making them cover the bottom like a jigsaw puzzle Follow with a layer of half of the shredded cheese and vegetables or meats.
On top of that, put the second bread layer, then the rest of the cheese layer. Mix the eggs, milk and salt/pepper and pour over the top of the whole, making sure all bread gets moistened.
Cover with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate overnight, or at least 3 hours.
If using cubes of buttered bread, mix the cubes with the shredded cheese and veggies lightly, so as not to mash the cubes. Then pour the egg/half-half or milk and salt/pepper mixture over the top, pressing gently to be sure all bread cubes get moistened.
Cover, refrigerate overnight, or at least 3 hours.
Remove from refrigeration and let sit while the oven reaches 350 degrees. Take off the cover and bake 50-60 minutes until puffed and golden brown.
Test with a knife in the center if in doubt. The knife should come out clean, with no milky residue on the blade.
Serves 8-10 people