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Italian Strata - Brunch Casserole

Recipe: Italian Strata - Brunch Casserole

Remarks:

Servings:
Serves 6 - 8

Ingredients:

    One loaf focaccia bread cut into one inch chunks (8 cups of cubes). If no focaccia is available you can use any hearty bread; even rye if you're adventuresome
    4 cups cubed, cooked ham. What I do is buy one slice of smoked ham and cut that up. You can also use cubed pepperoni if you want a little more "bite" in your strata
    4 cups lightly cooked broccoli. I just spray a sauté pan and cook the broccoli until its just warmed through and still crispy. I don't want it soggy in the strata.
    4 cups shredded provolone cheese
    1/2 a red bell pepper diced
    1 tsp Italian spice mix
    1/2 cup diced onion
    1/2 cup crème fraîche
    8 eggs
    2 cups milk
    grated pepper
    2-3 cups spaghetti sauce from a jar

Instructions:

    Take out your 9 X 13" oven-proof pan. Spread half of the bread cubes in the bottom. Toss in the ham, broccoli, provolone, pepper, onion and spice mix.

    Top with the rest of the bread cubes.

    In a bowl, use your whisk to beat up the eggs and mix in the crème fraîche. The crème fraîche will stay a bit lumpy. That's fine. Just mix the eggs like you would for scrambling. Add the milk and stir it around with your whisk until that's mixed in too. Grate pepper to your taste into the mixture. Now pour it over the strata.

    You need to cover this and leave it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. The mixture has to soak into the bread. You can leave it as long as 24 hours before you bake it.

    Bake it at 325 degrees, uncovered, for 60 minutes. Stick an instant-read thermometer in to make sure it's at least 170 degrees. If in doubt at all, do check the temperature. You do not want to mess with eggs and risk food poisoning.

    Let stand on the counter for 10 minutes. During this time heat your spaghetti sauce.

Serving Suggestions:

    You'll serve each piece of strata on top of a bed (half cup) of warmed spaghetti sauce. If you are serving this on a buffet you can put the sauce in a gravy boat and guests can serve themselves.

    Serve a salad on the side and you have a meal. Some fruit would be nice too.

Enjoy. Cheers! Zola

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