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Sausage Strata with Cheddar Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

A strata, which is a layered casserole made primarily of bread, eggs and cheese, can often be assembled the day before serving and refrigerated until it goes into the oven. This recipe makes an excellent focal point for a breakfast buffet, accompanied with a Caesar salad or a fruit salad. If the strata is fully baked but the top isn’t brown enough, slip the dish (make sure it is ovenproof) under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. sweet or hot pork sausages, casings removed and meat crumbled 
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped 
  • 1 cup slivered dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes 
  • 8 eggs 
  • 2 cups milk 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper 
  • Unsalted butter for greasing 
  • 12 slices soft white bread, each 1/2 inch thick, crusts removed  
  • 1/4 lb. cheddar cheese, grated 

Directions:

In a fry pan over medium-high heat, cook the sausage meat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until no trace of pink remains, 10 to 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.

Pour off all but 1 Tbs. of the fat from the pan, return to medium-high heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and remove from the heat.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the milk, salt and pepper until blended.

Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Arrange 6 of the bread slices in a single layer on the bottom of the prepared dish. Top evenly with half of the sausage, half of the tomato mixture and half of the cheese. Repeat with the remaining bread slices, sausage, tomato mixture and cheese.

Slowly pour the egg mixture evenly over the layers. Wrap the dish securely in plastic wrap and weight with large cans to submerge the layers. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

Preheat an oven to 350°F.

Remove the plastic wrap from the baking dish. Bake until the strata is puffed and golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer the dish to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Cut into pieces and serve. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Breakfast and Brunch, by Georgeanne Brennan, Elinor Klivans, Jordan Mackay and Charles Pierce (Oxmoor House, 2007).