Chard & Sausage Strata with Piment d’Ville Basque Chile

Serves 8. 

Strata makes savory, homey breakfast, and feeds a crowd. Put the coffee on and relax because all the prep is done the evening before. This brunch favorite is also great for a casual supper, paired with a salad.

It’s a great way to use up stale bread and you can change up the greens or cheeses according to what you have on hand. To make a vegetarian version, replace the sausage with sauté sliced cremini mushrooms seasoned with salt, pepper, and crushed fennel seeds.

1 pound sweet Italian sausage with fennel
1 cup diced onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
½ teaspoon Piment d’Ville Basque Chile, more to taste
8 cups roughly chopped Swiss chard leaves, stems removed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
7 eggs
1½ cups milk
¼ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1½ cups grated Gruyère cheese
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
8 cups cubed stale bread (¾-inch cubes)*
Salt and black pepper

Butter a 9”x 13” x 2” (or 3-quart) casserole dish. Set aside.

Put the sausages and 2 tablespoons of water into a large skillet. Set the pan over medium-high heat, cover, and cook for about 5 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking, turning the sausages occasionally, until they are golden brown. Set them aside to cool. Save 1 tablespoon of fat in the skillet and discard the rest.

Return the pan to the heat and add the onions with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and chile; cook 1 minute longer. Add the chard, another pinch of salt, and cook until it has completely wilted. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the vegetables and set the skillet aside to cool.

Toss the two cheeses together. Separately, beat together the eggs, milk, cream, Dijon, nutmeg, and black pepper (to your liking).

Scatter half of the bread cubes in the prepared casserole dish, top with half the sausage, half the vegetables, then half the cheese. Repeat for a second layer. Pour the egg-mixture over this assembly. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight (or for at least 4 hours).

Take the strata out of the fridge 30 minutes before baking and pre-heat the oven to 350˚ F. Bake the strata, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until the custard is cooked through. The top should be a deep golden brown. Let the strata cool for 5–10 minutes before serving.

*Use a hearty bread for this dish. If you don’t have stale bread on hand, toast the cubed bread in a 300˚ F oven for 10–15 minutes.

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