Thanksgiving Day is just a few hours away and, for me, the next few weeks will be an exciting whirlwind of entertaining family and friends! Instead of spending hours in the kitchen while everyone else is visiting, I’m going to be serving dishes that can be made in advance and all I have to do is pop them in the oven a few moments before guests arrive.
One of my go-to recipes for entertaining is a Sausage, Red Bell Pepper and Six Cheese Strata that’s delicious, elegant, and super easy to make (it even tastes better when assembled the night before!). A strata is simply a layered breakfast casserole that has a bread pudding like consistency and can be made up of any combination of meats, cheeses, and vegetables. My recipe calls for hot Italian sausage and a blend of six Italian cheeses, but feel free to make the recipe your own by substituting bacon, ham or any mixture of cheeses such as Smoked Gouda, Havarti, or White Cheddar.
Serve the Sausage, Red Bell Pepper, and Six Cheese Strata alongside fresh fruit and a big pitcher of Mimosas or Bloody Mary’s for a fabulous holiday brunch that your family and friends will love! Enjoy!
Sausage, Red Bell Pepper and Six Cheese Strata
Makes 8 to 10 servings
6 large eggs
2 ½ cups whole milk
2 cups sliced green onions
½ cup whipping cream
½ cup Sargento Shredded 6 Cheese Italian Blend (or your choice of shredded Italian cheeses)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
½ teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste
1 pound hot Italian sausages, casings removed
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into ½ inch wide strips
1 1lb loaf rustic French bread, but into ½ inch slices
2 cups coarsely grated Fontina cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 13x9x2 inch baking dish. Whisk first 7 ingredients in large bowl; sprinkle generously with black pepper. Set aside.
Place sausage in large nonstick skillet; push to one side. Add bell pepper to other side of skillet. Saute; over high heat, breaking up sausage into small pieces with fork, until sausage is cooked through and bell peppers are brown in spots, about 7 minutes.
Arrange half of bread slices in prepared dish. Pour half of egg mixture over. Sprinkle with half of cheese, then half of sausage pepper mixture. Repeat layering. Let stand 20 minutes, occasionally pressing on bread to submerge. Bake strata until puffed and brown, about 1 hour. Cool slightly.
Note: If making the night before, cover uncooked strata with plastic wrap and press down slightly before baking to make sure that all layers soak up the egg mixture. If desired, additional cheese may be sprinkled on top of the strata before baking.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit Magazine, June 2009 issue.