The holidays are such a busy time that breakfast can seem either too hectic to deal with or like an afterthought. In the hopes of creating a memorable morning meal you could easily be tempted to spend your morning chopping and stirring instead of enjoying your family. Or maybe the allure of that new Wii game is too strong, so you end up blowing off your planned meal and making scrambled eggs and toast instead. So is there a happy medium? After years of plotting and planning my family’s morning Christmas feasts, and buying specialty ingredients for them, I think I’ve found one.
Egg strata is my new standard quick and painless meal for a decadently delicious holiday breakfast. After first making this dish a few years ago, I’ve made holiday strata a few other times with great results. I love that I can make this dish the night before, so the only thing I have to do on Christmas morning is stick it in the oven. I’ve also taken to using ingredients I already have. After all, why buy bacon when I have smoked sausage or holiday ham in the fridge? And do I really need grated smoked cheddar if I already have Gouda or Humboldt Fog from appetizers the night before? This means I don’t have to shop and plan for yet another holiday meal.
But the best part is that this strata is everything a holiday breakfast should be: mixed with whole milk or half and half, the eggs turn out creamy and pillowy, while the addition of those holiday cheeses plus a little cream cheese or crème fraiche adds a gorgeous richness, sort of like a beautiful bow on an already lovely present.
There is no strict recipe for holiday strata. The rule is to simply use whatever your refrigerator contains that sounds good. So if you have Gouda and smoked sausage, use it. Or if the roasted artichoke hearts from the evening before are available, cut them up and toss them in with some chunks of Brie. Anything is fine as long as you like it.
Here are some general directions for making a holiday strata. I hope your breakfast, and day, are as stress-free as this dish.
Trouble-Free Holiday Breakfast Strata
The following is a set of guidelines for making your own holiday breakfast. The measurements are for individual servings, so just multiply by the number of people you’re serving. You can also bake this dish in one big casserole or baking dish, or split each serving up in separate dishes (which is what I like to do).
1/2 – 3/4 cup chopped day old bread, croissants, bagels, or appetizer toasts
1/2 cup whole milk or half and half
1/4 cup of your favorite on-hand ingredients (such as cooked spinach and shallots; sausage and onions; tomatoes and bacon; lump crab meat ; holiday ham; chanterelles; or whatever sounds good)
1/3 cup cheese (use leftover appetizer cheese from a holiday party; Cotswold is one of my favorites, but Brie or Gouda are also great. If you don’t have any, use some cheddar or jack mixed with cream cheese)
1/8 cup crème fraiche or ricotta cheese (if you have some on hand)
1 Tbsp chopped herbs
Top with fresh or dried bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Butter or oil your baking dishes.
2. Add in the chopped bread
3. Top with your favorite strata ingredients, cheese and herbs
4. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, milk or half and half, and salt and pepper
5. Pour egg mixture into baking dish. Let sit overnight, covered, in the refrigerator or for at least ten minutes before baking.
6. The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees while you unwrap presents.
7. Before popping the stratas in the oven, top each with bread crumbs
8. Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through.