Strata – yummy comfort food and great use of day old bread!

The other day I wanted to make something delicious and different for my son.  As I started leafing through the  binders of all the recipes from the classes I took the last four years, I found one from Tante Marie’s Cooking School (now unfortunately closed).  It just so happened that I had all the ingredients for it, and it’s called a Strata.  It’s easy, delicious and can be made from leftovers.  What could be better!  See the picture on my Instagram page.  Here’s the recipe for a medium soufflé dish:

About 6 thick slices good 1-2 day old bread like an italian country style bread with the crusts cut off. I cut mine in slices on the third day and put it in a plastic bag in the fridge so I always have leftover bread.

About 2 -3 cups leftover meat or veggie mixture – I happened to have about 2 cups Joe Special leftovers in the fridge. I used them cold out of the fridge. You can make it fresh using 3/4 lb. ground beef or bulk country, breakfast or italian sausage, 1 cup sliced mushrooms and 1/4 c. finely chopped onions. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat, brown the sausage for about 5 min. then add the onions and mushrooms and continue to cook for 5 min. stirring frequently then set aside. For the vegetable mixture just use leftover veggies or sauté a few cups of any combo you think would be tasty.

3/4 cup grated Gruyere or Cheddar cheese. I used Gruyere and it worked well with the Joe Special mix.

2 large eggs, lightly beaten in a bowl and then add 1 cup milk and mix until combined.

Butter the soufflé dish.  Place in the bottom a layer of the bread.  My soufflé dish used two slices.  Top with half of the meat mixture and sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese.  Repeat with another layer of bread, the other half of the meat mixture, and another 1/3 of the cheese.  Cover with a third layer of bread.  Slowly pour the milk and egg mixture over the top and sprinkle with the last of the grated cheese.  Let the Strata stand for at least an hour or cover and chill for up to 24 hours.  Set the casserole on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven and bake the strata until the top is nicely browned and bubbly, about 1 hour.  Serving size is 2-4.

Recipe adapted from Tante Marie who adapted it from the Joy of Cooking.