Ham and Asparagus Strata
This strata recipe is a fancy breakfast casserole that will make for the perfect spring family gathering, such as an Easter brunch. It's a delicious, hearty meal that will give you a boost of energy for the day, made with seasonal fresh asparagus layered with cubes of rustic bread, eggs, Gruyere cheese, milk, cream, and diced ham. It's sure to be a hit with everyone!
- 1 loaf rustic Italian or French bread, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes, about 8 cups total of bread cubes
- 4 large eggs
- 1 3/4 cups milk
- 1 1/4 cups cream
- 1 teaspoon dried tarragon (or thyme)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Kosher salt (for blanching water)
- 1 pound asparagus spears, woody ends removed, spears cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 1 medium bowl ice water
- 2 tablespoons softened butter (for buttering the dish)
- 6 ounces ham, cut into 1/4-inch cubes, about 2 cups
- 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated, about 1 cup, packed
- Preheat the oven: Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Lightly toast the cubed bread: Spread the cubed bread over a baking dish or sheet pan in a single layer. Place in the oven and bake until lightly toasted, about 7 to 8 minutes. Remove and set aside. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F.
- Whisk the eggs, milk, cream, and seasonings: In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, cream, tarragon, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- Blanch the asparagus: Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil (1 1/2 teaspoons of salt). Add the cut asparagus to the boiling water. Return to a boil and blanch the asparagus for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the asparagus to a bowl of ice water to shock the asparagus and stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.
- Layer the casserole: Spread butter over the inside of an 8- x11- x2 1/4-inch casserole dish. Spread half of the bread cubes over the bottom of the casserole dish. Sprinkle half of the ham cubes over the bread. Sprinkle half of the asparagus over the ham. Sprinkle everything with half of the Gruyere cheese. Pour half of the milk and egg mixture over everything.
- Repeat the layer: Add another layer of cubed bread, ham, asparagus, Gruyere, and milk-egg mixture. Press down on the mixture with your (clean) hands to help the bread soak up more of the milk mixture.
At this point, you can make up to a day ahead, cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.
- Bake: Cover with aluminum foil and place in the 350°F oven for 40 minutes. Remove the foil. Bake uncovered for an additional 20 to 30 minutes until the egg mixture is set. Test by inserting a sharp knife into the center of the casserole. If the inside is still runny, it's not cooked through yet and needs more time in the oven. If the top starts to get too browned, you can cover it again with aluminum foil.
- Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe courtesy of Simply Recipes