For our breakfast I made three breakfast casseroles:
They are, in order from front to back:
- French Toast Bake with Raspberries and Marscapone
- Spinach and Gruyere Strata
- Sausage and Monterey Jack Strata
After, several requests, I've promised to post each of the recipes here.
Today we are going to start with the Sausage and Monterey Jack Strata. It seems to be the most popular and if you only get around to making one...this is it. The original recipe came from Cooks Illustrated. I've made a minor adjustments to accommodate my families tastes. This is also a double batch version, so you can cut this recipe in half and make a smaller version.
Always best to time this so that you are pulling the strata out of the oven while your guests are standing around your kitchen. It comes out of the oven all puffed and brown. It looks amazing. After it cools and couple minutes and falls back down to earth, but it sure does make a fantastic first impression.
And as for taste...well there is nothing quite like it.
Sausage and Monterry Jack Version – Double Recipe
- · 10 – 12 slices supermarket French or Italian Bread
- · 6 Tbl softened butter (approx)
- · 1.25 pounds of bulk breakfast sausage
- · 6 medium shallots, minced (about 1/3 of a cup)
- · Salt and ground black pepper
- · 1 cup medium-dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)
- · 12 ounces Monterrey Jack cheese, grated
- · 12 large eggs
- · 3 1/2 cups half and half
- · 4 Tbl minced fresh parsley leaves
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 225 degrees. Arrange bread in a single layer on large baking sheet and bake 20 minutes and flip. Bake 20 minutes more until bread is dry and crisp. Set aside to cool. (Alternative option: leave slices out overnight to dry.)
When cooled, butter slices on one side using 4 Tbl of butter; set aside.
Fry sausage in medium nonstick skillet of medium heat, breaking sausage apart with wooden spoon, until sausage has lost raw color and begins to brown, about 4 minutes; add shallots and cook, stirring frequently until softened and translucent, about 1 minute longer. Transfer mixture to medium bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add wine to skillet, increase heat to medium-high and simmer until reduced to 1/2 cup, 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Butter 8 x 12-inch square baking dish with remaining 2 Tbl butter; arrange half the buttered bread slices, buttered-side up, in a single layer in the dish (can cut bread to fit). Sprinkle half of the sausage mixture over the layer of bread. Sprinkle ½ cup cheese on top of sausage mixture. Arrange remaining bread slices in single layer over cheese. Sprinkle remaining sausage mixture and then another ½ cup of cheese evenly over bread.
Whisk eggs in medium bowl until combined; whisk in cooled reduced wine mixture, half and half, parsley and 1 tsp salt, and pepper to taste. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread layers; cover surface flush with plastic wrap. Place boxes of sugar or cake mixes on top of plastic wrap. (Intent here is to press down on the mixture so all the ingredients are covered in the egg mixture.) Refrigerate overnight.
Remove dish from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Uncover strata and add remaining ½ cup cheese. Bake until both edges and center are puffed and edges have slightly pulled away from the side of the baking dish, 1 hr and 20 minutes.
Here's a better view of the Sausage Strata...photo bombed by my cousin Leslie.
Now all you have to do is cut into squares and serve.