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Bacon, Cheddar, and Scallion Strata

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Bacon, Cheddar, and Scallion Strata

Bacon, Cheddar, and Scallion Strata
New Media Publishing / Photography: Flat Art Studios.com / Stylist: Abigail Donnelly
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total prep
If you've never heard of a strata, relax. It's just another name for a savory bread pudding and it makes a very appealing brunch main dish because it can be put together a day in advance; in fact, you want to make it that far ahead so that the bread can absorb some of the custard. It's a particularly good pick for Mother's Day when Dad and the kids are looking for something easy to make because there aren't a lot of extra ingredients besides the bread and custard, just the powerhouse ones of bacon and Cheddar with some scallions added for sweetness as well as a welcome touch of spring green. Simple as it is, there's just enough of a challenge here in this recipe to provide some teaching moments for beginner kids, such as how to cut the bread -— serrated knife, please —- and how to whisk the eggs and milk (whisk the eggs first, then whisk in the milk).

Ingredients

  • 1/4 pound sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch strips
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced thin (1 1/2 cups)
  • 8 cups cubed crusty French or Italian bread
  • 8 ounces coarsely grated sharp Cheddar (2 1/2 cups)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

  • Cook bacon in a large heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to a small bowl and pour off fat. Add butter to skillet and in it cook scallions, stirring, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Spread out half of bread in a buttered 13- by 9-inch baking dish and sprinkle with half of the cheese and half of bacon. Repeat layering again.
  • Whisk eggs in a bowl, then whisk in milk, Worcestershire, and salt. Pour evenly over bread and cheese and chill, tightly covered, overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and let strata stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Bake, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, about 50 minutes.
  • Notes and Tips:
    Bacon is easiest to slice when it's cold. You can cook it a day ahead and keep the bacon chilled in an airtight container.
  • For a bigger boost of bacon flavor, feel free to substitute bacon fat for all or part of the butter.
  • Scallions can be sliced a day ahead and kept chilled in an airtight container.
  • Cheddar can be grated a day ahead and kept chilled in an airtight container or, if you are short of time, substitute an equal weight of pre-grated cheese.
  • Game Plan:

    Day Before:
    Slice and cook bacon.
    Slice and cook scallions.
    Cut bread and assemble strata in pan. Cover tightly and chill.
    Day of:
    Pull strata out of fridge 1/2 hour before baking so that it can come to room temperature.
    Allow at least 10, if not 15 minutes to preheat oven.
    Strata is best when warm but if it cools to room temperature it's still delicious.