RECIPE: Sausage, Sun-dried Tomato and Cheese Strata

This is an old stand-by recipe that I often pull out for special "brunch" occasions (Father's Day, Mother's Day, Christmas morning) . The beauty of strata is that you pull the ingredients together the night before, and let the fridge do the rest of the job while you get your beauty sleep. The next morning; pop it in the oven, make a pot of coffee, butter a handful of toast, toss together a cut-up fruit salad with yogurt side, slap on some make up and you, my dear, look like a diva in front of all your morning guests!

Sausage, Sun-dried Tomato and Cheese Strata

1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
12 oz. turkey breakfast sausage patties
3 1/2 cups whole milk
8 large eggs
2 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 lb. white sandwich bread, crusts trimmed, bread cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped onion
8 oz. sliced mushrooms (optional, but I highly recommend them)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese (packed)
1/4 cup crumbled soft, fresh goat cheese
chopped, fresh parsley

Place sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl covered with boiling water to just cover. Let stand to soften for 15 minutes. Remove tomatoes and set aside. Conserve half of the liquid.

In a large saute pan, cook sausage until brown, breaking up the sausage with the back of your spoon. Transfer to paper towels to drain. In the drippings, saute the onion until starting to soften, then add the mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms begin releasing their juices. Add the tomato liquid to deglaze the pan and toss around. Take off the heat.

Butter a 13 x 9 x 2 glass baking pan. In a large bowl, whisk the milk, eggs, thyme, salt and pepper, and the parm. In another bowl, mix the bread, tomatoes, mushrooms, half the mozzarella and onions and spread evenly in the bottom of the pan. Pour egg mixture over the bread mixture evenly. Using the back of the spoon, gently push down in areas so the bread absorbs the eggs. While doing this, redistribute any ingredients so things are even. Cover with plastic and let sit overnight (at least 4 hours).

Preheat oven to 350 the next morning. Sprinkle the remainder mozzarella on top as well as nestling the goat cheese evenly in the egg mixture throughout the strata. Sprinkle fresh parsley on top. Bake for 30-40 minutes until puffy and evenly golden brown. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.



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