We all have recipes in our files that we fall back on time and time again, don’t we? The ones that we know will always come out perfect and everyone requests over and over again. This ham and cheese strata is one of my old reliables.
This strata is essentially a breakfast casserole, but it’s so much more. I could, without much effort, even think of this as a savory bread pudding. Its layers of bread, cheese, ham, and mushrooms combine with the eggs and milk overnight into a glorious dish best enjoyed on a lazy weekend morning. It’s also the perfect centerpiece for a brunch. Everything, including the strata, can be prepared the night before providing you a delicious breakfast or brunch with very little to do in the morning. Serve the strata with some mixed fresh fruit, buttery croissants and nice, strong coffee alongside. Take it all out on the deck with some friends or just your sweetheart and the Sunday paper and simply relax. This old reliable recipe is good for any time of the year and often makes an appearance in our home on Christmas morning.
8 slices sandwich bread
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
8 oz. baked ham, chopped
4 oz. canned sliced mushrooms, drained
1/4 cup chopped parsley (or 2 tblsp. dried)
2 1/4 cups milk
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/8 tsp. paprika
Dash of pepper
Trim the crusts from five slices of bread, reserving crusts. Cut in half diagonally. Set aside.
Generously butter a 9-inch square baking dish.
Tear the remaining three slices of bread into pieces and place them in the baking dish along with the reserved crusts. Over the bread, layer the cheese, ham, mushrooms and parsley. To make the recipe really easy, I use packaged grated cheese, an 8-ounce package of chopped baked ham and canned mushrooms. If you want to hand grate the cheese, cook up some ham and use fresh mushrooms please do so! However, I’ve found that difference in taste is miniscule.
Arrange the bread triangles in two rows over the layers.
Combine the remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread. Try to make sure that each bread triangle gets nicely saturated with milk. Cover the baking dish and chill for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.
Bake at 325 degrees for 60 to 75 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Other strata recipes that you might enjoy from around the internet:
- We Are Not Martha’s Spinach, Sausage and Cheese Strata
- Gale Gand’s recipe for Strata on House Beautiful’s web site
- Ham and Cheese Strata on Food and Wine
- Smitten Kitchen’s Spinach and Cheese Strata