Friends, strata is another word for “breakfast casserole”. I’m sure at least a few of you have heard this term. I can’t be the only one who uses this word to describe a breakfast casserole that involves day-old or stale bread and a combination of eggs, cheese, and other mix-ins.
I knew I wanted to make a strata as soon as I tested out last week’s Beer Bread recipe, and so I quickly got to work on an Oktoberfest-inspired casserole full of shredded cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, and bratwurst sausage.
The day came to make said casserole, and lo and behold it came out golden brown, cheesy, and all that I could hope for in a strata.
After taking photos, I give my parents a call (as I usually do since they live so far away) and ask how they are doing and let them know what I am up to that day.
Me: Yeah the blog is going well. I made a strata today
Dad: What’s a strata?
Me: It’s like a breakfast casserole full of meat and cheese and eggs and bread. You’d really like it.
Dad: That does sound great. You should name it Erik.
Me: … what?
Dad: Yeah. So you will get a lot of hits on the blog.
Me: I don’t get it
This continued for a few minutes until it slowly dawned on me as Dan started laughing and saying “A Strata = Erik Estrada” out loud emphatically to me.
Friends, I cannot even begin to explain the eye roll that ensued. Little did I know that this joke would follow me to work the next day as well. Every person who asked what dish I was working on for the blog, as soon as I mentioned the word strata, grew a giant grin and asked:
Oh, like Erik Estrada?
So, today we shall call this a Breakfast Casserole.
A BREAKFAST CASSEROLE!
The key is to use day-old bread, or in my case, toast the bread cubes in the oven a few minutes so that they dry out. It allows the bread cubes to soak up the egg mixture without getting soggy.
The result is a hearty, filling, casserole that the whole family will love! This Oktoberfest-inspired dish will be sure to warm you up on even the chilliest of mornings.
I’ll be back on Wednesday with a recipe to celebrate the official start of Autumn for so be sure to check it out that morning!
Cheddar Bratwurst Beer Bread Breakfast Casserole
- 1 loaf Beer Bread or your favorite sourdough bread loaf, sliced and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and sliced vertically
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 lb bratwurst sausage, casings removed
- 1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 5 eggs
Prep the night before:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 inch (an 11×7 inch works too) casserole dish with cooking spray. Once oven is preheated, toast all the bread cubes on a cookie sheet for 7-10 minutes or until they resemble croutons. Remove from oven and add half of the toasted bread cubes to the bottom of the casserole dish, creating an even layer. Reserve the other half.
- Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and salt, and stir to coat onions in oil. Sauté over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, or until onions have softened and begun to brown. Continue to cook for an additional 10-15 minutes until onions caramelize. Once golden brown, remove from heat and set aside until ready to use.
- While onions are caramelizing, brown sausage in a separate skillet over medium heat, breaking into small chunks with your spatula. Once sausage is browned on all sides, remove from heat and add half the sausage in an even layer over the toasted bread cubes in the casserole dish. Make another layer with half the caramelized onions, then half of the shredded cheddar cheese.
- Add the rest of the toasted bread cubes over this, followed by the rest of the sausage, onions and cheese.
- Whisk together milk and eggs. Pour this mixture over the top of the entire casserole. Gently press the bread mixture down so that everything is moistened by the milk and eggs.
- Cover and refrigerate for 2-24 hours (overnight is best!).
When ready to bake the morning of:
- Remove casserole from fridge 30 minutes before you're ready to bake. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, then bake the casserole, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes or until it no longer jiggles and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Serve immediately and dig in!