Make-Ahead Breakfast Strata

Christmas was a little chaotic this year.  Very rarely are we able to organize the entire family so that my brother and I can actually go home to Michigan at the same time, but this year we pulled it off, somehow….  Between 2 toddlers, 1 infant, a 6-yr old Golden Retriever and a 6-month old Golden Retriever, there was a lot of running around, yelling, and general family pandemonium occurring 24/7.  Fun pandemonium though.

With all of this madness, and trying to take into account people’s particular food likes and dislikes, any kind of advance meal planning was KEY.

This meal lends itself well to cooking for a crowd because you make it 8 to 24 hours ahead of time.  Letting the dish sit, well covered and weighted, allows the dish to reach the desired consistency.  We made this on Christmas Eve to enjoy on Christmas morning, when you’d rather be doing a million other things than worrying about breakfast.

Start by getting your bread toasted and buttered.  Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and spread your bread out over 2 baking sheets and bake until dry and light golden brown, about 25 minutes.  Make sure you switch and rotate the baking sheets halfway through the baking time so that the bread slices all cook evenly.

Let the bread cool completely and spread the butter evenly over 1 side of each bread slice.

While the bread is toasting, cook the bulk Italian sausage  in a non-stick skillet over medium heat, breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon.  Cook until the sausage starts to brown, about 7 minutes.  Stir in the shallots and continue to cook until the shallots have softened, about 3 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and cook until their liquid has released, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Add wine to the now empty skillet and simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Butter a 13 x 9 inch baking dish and tightly fit half of the bread slices, buttered sides up, into a single layer in the dish.  Top the bread with half of the sausage mixture, followed by 1 cup of cheese evenly on top.

Repeat with the remaining bread slices, sausage mixture, and 1 more cup of the Monterey Jack cheese.

To prepare the egg mixture, whisk the eggs in a large bowl until combined, and then whisk in the reduced wine, half and half, parsley, 1 tsp of salt, and 1/2 tsp of pepper.

Pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread and sausage layers and sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese over the top.

To store, wrap the strata tightly with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap flush against the surface of the strata.  Weigh the strata down with about 3 pounds.  I used a heavy cookbook.

Thanks for adding your poundage, Ina

Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.

To cook, preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Meanwhile, unwrap the strata and allow it to come to room temperature, about 20 minutes.  Bake the strata, uncovered, until puffed and the edges have pulled away slightly from the sides of the dish, about an hour and 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Next time you have to cook breakfast for a crowd, focus on enjoying some mimosas, not slaving over a hot stove!


  • 16-20 (1/2 inch thick) slices supermarket French of Italian bread
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the baking dish
  • 1 pound bulk sweet or hot Italian sausage
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 1 pound white button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine or vermouth
  • 12 ounces (3 cups) of Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 12 large eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh minced parsley

Serves 6 to 8

Original Recipe, America’s Test Kitchen, The Best Make-Ahead Recipe

Tags: , , , , , ,

Categories: Breakfast, Recipes

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3 Comments on “Make-Ahead Breakfast Strata”

  1. January 17, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    I’ve selected your blog for the 7X7 Award…there will be a link to your blog in about an hour! Love you what you do!

    • January 17, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

      Aw, thanks!

      • February 7, 2014 at 6:14 pm #

        No,The only way you could do that would be to take all the meat out of the casing and add more UNSALTED meat and remix and stuff again.Boiling them for a few minuets before frying will help slightly.But it could also be the casing.Casings come packed in heavy salt( I mean they are super salty) and have to be rinsed for about 10 minuets( rinsed and stirred and rinsed)The way you can tell is to take some meat out of the casing and see if its the meat or the casing or both that are salty.Fry just the meat and taste. If it OK then all you have to do is soak them in running cold water to remove the salt from the casing.The proper amount of salt for sausage is 3 ounces for every 10 pounds.So 20 lbs he would have had to use no more then 6 ounces of salt and 1 1/4 ounces of course black butcher pepper.

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