20120811

DEAD BREAD LIVES AGAIN AS A SAUSAGE STRATA!

 
I don't know about you but I am always ending up with tail ends of loaves of bread.  Those last 2 or 3 pieces that are too dry to use for a sandwich.  If the bread is plain I'll dry it more in the oven, grind it up and use it as bread crumbs.  (Seriously? You're still paying for bread crumbs??) If it has seeds or nuts or whatever on the crust I'll freeze it until I get enough to turn it into a strata!

What is a Strata? It's a layered casserole dish similar to a quiche or frittata, made from a mixture which mainly consists of bread, eggs and cheese though it may also include meats or vegetables. The usual preparation requires that the bread be layered then the custard mixture poured over it - hence the name "strata".

I prefer using a method more similar to a savory bread pudding where the bread is broken up into pieces and soaked in the custard mixture before placing it in the baking dish. It's just a personal thing, I think the bread crust gets more evenly distributed this way.

A strata is traditionally served warm, right out of the oven BUT since I am into "tiny foods" and always looking for new happy hour snacks, I have been known to cut a strata cold.  I simply cut pieces into 1" cubes, poke a cocktail pick in them and serve them up chilled with a matching dipping sauce for a cocktail snack!

Strata Trivia: The earliest strata recipe known is a 1902 recipe for Cheese strata, a gratin of layers of bread, white sauce, and cheese, but no eggs.

My latest strata recipe is my
SEXY SAUSAGE STRATA
(Why sexy? Because it makes you feel all warm and happy inside and afterwards you're very satisfied!)

INGREDIENTS
1 Loaf "Dead" (Dry) Bread
4 Eggs
1-1/2 C. Milk
3 Sweet Italian Sausage Links
1/2 C. Diced Onions
8 Oz. Small Curd Cottage Cheese
8 Oz. Shredded Cheddar
Any Leftover Cheese*
3 Tbsp. Melted Butter
2 Tbsp. Yellow Mustard
1 Tsp. Pollen Ranch Spicy Fennel Sea Salt
Black Pepper to Taste
Spray Cooking Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

TOOLS
Measuring Cups and Spoons
Large and Medium Mixing Bowls
Large Saute Pan
13x9x2 Baking Dish
 
DIRECTIONS
  1. Spray a 13x9x2 baking dish with cooking oil spray.
  2. Break the bread into large chunks.
  3. Spray your saute pan with some cooking spray, crumble in the Italian Sausage and cook until nicely caramelized.
  4. Remove the cooked sausage to drain on paper towel, set aside in the fridge but leave sausage grease and bits in pan.
  5. Add your diced onions to the sausage fat, add about a tablespoon or more of olive oil and cook until caramelized, remove and drain on paper towel.
  6. Beat the eggs, milk, melted butter, salt, pepper and mustard in a large bowl.
  7. Fold in the shredded cheese and the cottage cheese. *(I will also usually add any slices or parts of packages of shredded cheese I have as well just to get rid of my odds and ends!)
  8. Next fold in the sausage and caramelized onions and gently blend all the ingredients until well incorporated.
  9. Pour, scoop or spoon into your greased baking dish.
  10. Cover your dish with plastic wrap and set in the fridge to soak a minimum of four hours, best overnight.
  11. To Bake, preheat oven to 350°F then bake your Strata for 50 minutes to one hour or until a knife tip comes out mostly clean.
Serve this up with a lovely fresh Spring greens salad with a honey mustard dressing (which I also use as a dipping sauce for the strata) and one of my yummy Champagne Martinis!
 

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