On Christmas morning, I like to sip coffee in front of the fire, in my pajamas, and not be in the kitchen cooking. (I just asked my husband if this was true and he said, “SO TRUE!”) The only thing I want to do on Christmas morning is press the “on” button on our coffee maker. I end up doing a little more, but not much. The way I avoid doing much on Christmas morning is by putting together brunch the night before. This Christmas morning strata recipe, along with cinnamon rolls, is something I put together on Christmas eve, refrigerate overnight, and then bake in the morning. This make ahead brunch recipe is delicious, hearty, and tasty.
If you’re assembling this on Christmas eve or the day before, it’s best to bring it to room temperature before baking it. If not, it’s okay but it may need to bake for longer. It takes less time to bake if it’s not going directly from the refrigerator to the oven.
This recipe is adapted from my cousin Renee’s strata recipe. In my recipe binder, it reads, “Cousin Renee’s Strata Recipe.” Cousin Renee, who is actually my Dad’s cousin but she’s my age so we just call each other cousins, is a fabulous cook and when she shared this recipe with me, I jumped for joy. I was clueless and used to put together an egg dish on Christmas morning when really what I wanted to be doing was sitting in front of the fire sipping coffee! I had no idea that it could be done the night before, refrigerated, and then baked. Isn’t Cousin Renee the best?
- 12 eggs
- 2 cups milk (I use 2% or whole)
- 1 teaspoon each: salt, pepper, dry mustard, red pepper flakes, optional: hot sauce
- 6-8 slices of bread, cut into ½ to 1-inch cubes, about 6 cups
- 1 pound ground pork
- ½ onion, chopped
- 1 pound mushrooms
- 3 cups grated cheddar cheese
- 5-6 cups or handfuls of spinach (I like Earthbound Farm's - it's pre-washed and ready to toss in)
- Cook pork and set aside to cool in a bowl. In same pan, sauté onions and mushrooms. Add to pork in bowl and cool.
- Beat eggs; add milk, salt, pepper, dry mustard and red pepper.
- Whisk together well.
- Add shredded cheese to egg and milk mixture.
- Put bread pieces in bottom of greased 13” X 9” pan.
- Add spinach on top of bread.
- Add pork, onion, and mushrooms to baking dish.
- Pour egg, milk and cheese mixture over top of baking dish.
- Carefully stir baking dish to mix things up but don’t spill. Spinach will shrink down during baking.
- Cover with foil and place in refrigerator overnight.
- If possible, bring to room temperature for about an hour before baking.
- With foil still on baking dish, place in preheated 350 oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove foil and bake for another 30-45 minutes. Done when bubbles appear on top.
- Let stand 10-15 minutes before serving. Slice and enjoy.
Did I mention how much we like this the next day, too? Plus, a day off from cooking!
- Bring eggs and milk to room temperature. They combine better if they’re not cold.
- Whole wheat or any type of dense bread works for this recipe.
- If your family doesn’t like the heels of bread, freeze the heels for a few weeks and use them here. Chopped up and in this recipe, no one will know they’re heels.
- I use Frank’s hot sauce with the salt, pepper, dry mustard, and red pepper flakes. Use your favorite.
- If purchasing already shredded cheese, look for an 8 ounce package.
- Before placing in oven, garnish with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese or smoked paprika.
- Vegetarian? Skip the pork altogether.
- Gluten free? Add diced, cooked, potatoes instead of bread. Bake them first and then cut into cubes.
- Don’t need to feed an army? Halve the recipe.
Whew! Done. It’s so good the next day, too, cold, if you don’t feel like cooking the day after Christmas. Enjoy.
A very special thank you to my daughter who tested this recipe for me and didn’t complain a bit! You truly are a Christmas girl.
What do you like to serve for a holiday brunch? Do you like to make food ahead?
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