Last Saturday, Jason had plans to play a round of golf with our friends J, R, and S so I willfully volunteered to feed them before their tee time at 10:40 AM. I came up with a game plan Friday night because waking up at 8:00 AM, deciding on breakfast for four, then cooking it in an hour is not my idea of a relaxed Saturday morning.
A couple of months back I discovered a show on PBS called Everyday Food and it has been a recorded series on my DVR ever since. It is a simple show hosted by 5 cooks and while none of them have a particularly captivating stage presence, the show itself is very straight forward and great for the at-home cook. They showcase “nutritious, delicious recipes that are simple to prepare and easy enough to cook everyday.”
The Canadian Bacon Strata prepared on one episode stuck out in my mind because the cook suggested that it be prepared the day before and sit overnight in the fridge. I am always looking for dishes that I can prepare ahead of time and this meal was no exception – especially since it was breakfast!
Canadian Bacon Strata
softened butter, to grease baking dish
4 English muffins, split, VERY toasted, and cut in half (creating semi circles)
1/2 pound sliced Canadian bacon, about 10 slices, cut in half (creating semi circles)
1 1/4 cup (5 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
8 large eggs
3 cups milk
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
coarse salt and ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
Use the softened butter to grease a 2 quart baking dish and then set aside.
Alternately arrange the muffins and bacon, cut side down, in the baking dish and sprinkle both cheeses over the top.
In another bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, mustard, salt, pepper, and hot sauce until combined. Pour the custard into the baking dish slowly so that the arrangement of bread and meat stays in place and everything remains standing up.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refigerate for AT LEAST 2 hours and up to overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Remove the plastic wrap from the baking dish and place the entire dish on a baking sheet. Bake until the strata is puffed in the center and when a knife is pierced in the center, it feels firm and the knife comes out clean. This will take about 1 hour and 30 minutes. If the top of the strata is getting too toasted for your preference, tent loosely with aluminum foil for the rest of the baking time.
Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before cutting and serving to set.
The finished product is extremely rich and creamy and the taste of Canadian bacon permeates throughout the dish. As soon as you take a bite of the custard, you taste the smoky, salty flavors of the bacon that may be imitated, but cannot be duplicated. This dish is also great to entertain with because it is easy to portion out. The English muffins layered with the bacon stand up throughout the entire process.
Letting it sit overnight in the fridge prior to baking is crucial. The recipe says that 2 hours is enough time but personally, I don’t think the English muffins will absorb enough of the custard to create the creamy texture after baked.
These are some modifications I could think of for this recipe:
- Omit the Canadian bacon or swap it with Chinese Vegetarian Ham. If you choose to completely eliminate the meat and don’t substitute it with a comparable product, I would be more heavy handed with the salt since it might be a bit bland.
- Use egg substitute instead of whole eggs.
- Combine other melting cheese to create a different flavor profile (i.e.; smoked Gouda or Swiss). I’m sure this goes without saying but I would not recommend using a moldy cheese like Bleu.
I encourage you to make this easy dish if you’re entertaining breakfast or brunch guests and if you do, please share your results. I am eager to hear of any updates you make!