|Sausage and Pepper Breakfast Strata|
Let’s play Jeopardy. Sausage and Pepper Strata is the answer. And the question was, “What’s for breakfast on Christmas morning. With sausage and peppers going together like peanut butter and jelly it wasn’t hard to dream this baby up. Another favorite from my childhood is peppers and eggs. This savory bread pudding puts all of those flavors together in a make ahead dish that is sure to satisfy on Christmas morning or any other mid morning gathering you may be hosting. It’s very convenient since you can throw it all together the day before and then just pop it in the oven an hour before the guests arrive. This dish is a slap in the face to the warm cinnamon rolls (Pillsbury) I might have had on Christmas morning if it weren’t for my intolerance to gluten. Rather than trying to concoct a gluten free inferiorly texture glob of dough with cinnamon and icing on top, I decided to ditch that whole idea. Instead I merged the flavors of a few of my favorite sandwiches from childhood to this Christmas morning feast.
Ingredients for the Strata:
· ½ lb sausage, casing removed
· 1 red bell pepper, diced
· 1 green bell pepper, diced
· 1 small onion, diced
· 1tbsp olive oil
· 4 cups fresh gluten free bread cubes ( I used Udi’s whole grain bread)
· 5 eggs
· 1 ½ cups milk or half & half ( I used half & half)
· salt and pepper to taste
Ingredients for the Cheese Sauce:
· 1 ½ cups milk
· 1 ½ tbsp corn starch
· 1 ½ tbsp butter
· ¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano
· salt and pepper and cayenne pepper to taste
1. Grease a shallow glass or ceramic casserole dish with a 2 qt capacity.
2. In a large nonstick pan over a medium high heat break up the sausage and sauté until it just starts to brown.
3. Add the peppers and onions with some salt and pepper to taste and up to a tablespoon of olive oil if the pan looks too dry then sauté the peppers and onions for about five minutes or until the veggies begin to soften and the onions look translucent.
4. Turn off the heat and stir in the bread cubes so that they will begin absorb some flavor as you make the custard.
5. In a medium bowl whisk the eggs together with some salt and pepper to taste then add the milk and whisk until smooth and set aside.
6. Spoon the bread mixture into the prepared casserole dish and pour over the egg mixture being careful to evenly distribute it. Cover and refrigerated for at least 4 hours but up to 24 hours so that the bread can absorb the custard mixture. When you’re ready to make the strata, bake it in a preheated 350°F or 175 °C oven for 1 hour then let it rest for 15 minutes before serving.
7. As it rests you can make an optional cheese sauce by combining the butter and cornstarch in a small saucepan over a medium low heat. Stir constantly as they melt together and begin to bubble then stir in the milk and continue stirring until the sauce begins to thicken then add the cheese, cayenne, salt, and pepper then give the sauce a final stir and it’s ready to ladle over the strata.
Notes: Marinara sauce also works well as an optional topper for the strata.