This recipe is straight out of the Joy of Cooking. For years, I did a New Year’s Day brunch and this was always one of the big hits. I typically do a sweet one as well as a savory one. What follows is the savory recipe; the modifications to make it sweet instead are at the bottom.
Important: You have to make it the night before!!
1 1/2 lb breakfast sausage
2 c sliced mushrooms
1/2 c sliced onions
4 large eggs
2 cups milk (soy milk worked fine)
1 large loaf of Italian bread (Udi’s gluten-free white works great too)
enough butter to slather the bread with
1 1/2 c grated gruyere cheese
Brown the sausage for 5 minutes, then add the mushrooms and onions, sauteing them in the sausage fat for 5 minutes.
Whisk together the eggs and milk.
Slice the bread into 18 slices and remove the crusts. Butter them and arrange 6 slices on the bottom of a well-buttered 9×13″ glass baking pan. Layer with half the sausage mixture and 1/3 of the cheese (or 1/2 a cup). Repeat with another layer of bread, the other half of the sausage and another 1/2 cup of cheese. Top with a third layer of bread.
Slowly pour the milk and egg mixture over the top and sprinkle with the last 1/2 cup of grated cheese. Refrigerate for at least an hour. But it’s much better if you can refrigerate it overnight.
Bake at 350° for about an hour, or until the top is nicely browned and bubbly.
To make a sweet strata:
Skip the sausage, mushrooms and onions (obviously).
Instead of plain bread use cinnamon-raisin.
Add 2 t cinnamon and 1/4 c maple syrup to the milk-egg mixture.
Use 5 ounces of cream cheese, cut into small cubes, in place of the gruyere.
While I’ve never tried it, I’ll bet this would be terrific made in individual muffin cups.