A make-ahead breakfast casserole featuring a savory egg strata loaded with sausage and Gouda cheese. The perfect make-ahead casserole for breakfast and brunch entertaining!
WHAT IS A STRATA, EXACTLY?
Stratas are the perfect make-ahead item for breakfast and brunch entertaining. The name “strata” may sound intimidating, but don’t let that scare you off. A strata is sort of like a savory bread pudding, and the main ingredients are pretty much the same: Day-old bread soaked in a custard. The custard is typically comprised of eggs and half-and-half or heavy cream.
WHAT’S IN IT?
This strata, in particular, is not only packed with delicious breakfast-y things like eggs, savory breakfast sausage, and melty Gouda cheese, but the real beauty of strata is you can make it a whole day in advance. Yes, it is make-ahead breakfast casserole. Plus, it feeds a crowd. Winner, winner chicken dinner…or in this case, egg-y breakfast?
The point is, make-ahead breakfast casseroles are a beautiful thing, allowing us to hold on to that beauty sleep a little bit longer. Breakfast stratas typically take right around 1 hour to bake, however, the temperature of the strata going into the oven will make a difference.
The colder it is when it goes in the oven, the longer it takes to cook through. I give myself enough wake time so that I can set the casserole out at least one hour before putting it into the oven. You want it to be at least close to room temperature before baking.
Since, it has evolved into my own creation and is in fact, the star of my family’s Christmas morning brunch every year. I whip it up the afternoon of Christmas Eve, and set it in the fridge until the morning, allowing the bread to soak up every bit of the decadent custard. I set it first thing Christmas morning, and pop it in the oven just before we watch the little ones tear through their gifts. It’s like Christmas magic.
A make-ahead breakfast egg strata loaded with sausage, Gouda cheese and fresh herbs.
- 1 tbsp Canola Oil
- Yellow Onion diced
- 1 lb Breakfast Pork Sausage
- 1 lb Loaf of Day Old Bakery Bread such as a Rustic French Loaf or Sourdough*
- 10 Eggs
- 3 c Half and Half
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
- Generous Pinch of Kosher Salt
- 2 c Freshly Grated Gouda Cheese
- 2 tbsp Freshly Minced Parsley
Have ready a greased 9x13" casserole dish. Add the oil to a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute 5 minutes. Add sausage and break apart with a wooden spoon. Saute for an additional 7-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Remove the crust from the bread and cut, or tear, into 1" cubes. Set aside until ready to use.
For the custard, whisk together the eggs, half and half, pepper and salt, making sure all of the ingredients are evenly combined and no eggs remain intact. Line the casserole dish with about 2/3's of the bread cubes, forming a single, even layer. Scatter the sausage and onion mixture evenly across the layer of bread cubes. Sprinkle with half of the cheese and all of the parsley. Pour the custard evenly over the casserole and top with the remaining bread cubes.
Press down gently until the custard runs up and over the bread cubes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours, but preferably overnight. Set out the casserole for at least one hour before baking, allowing it to come as close to room temperature as possible. Preheat the oven to 325°.
Top with remaining cheese, bake, uncovered, for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the casserole comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly, serve and enjoy.
NOTE: The strata is best when the bread is able to soak up the custard! When planning to make your strata, allow at least THREE HOURS of "soak time" in the refrigerator, but overnight is preferable.