When I'm serving a morning crowd, strata is usually part of the meal. This simple bread-and-custard breakfast casserole appeals to a wide swath of diners, especially if flavorings are kept to a minimum (with breakfast meat on the side). And you can make and bake it ahead of time.
Strata can be savory or sweet. I usually opt for savory because of all the sugar, butter and heavy dairy in the sweet versions, but I decided to see if I could make sweet strata a little less naughty.
I was able to cut back on some of the sugar and fat and still deliver strata worthy of a celebration. Many strata and other sweet breakfast casserole recipes call for anywhere from one to two sticks of butter — that's eight to 16 tablespoons! Mine requires just six tablespoons, and I feature it in the crumble topping.
I concentrated the sugar in the topping, too. Similar recipes include sugar in both custard and topping, as well as a dousing of syrup, but I've found that if the sugar sits on the surface it's more prominent and you need less. I also offer a lightly sweetened fresh-strawberry sauce instead of straight syrup. My custard is simple — eggs, vanilla and evaporated milk rather than the usual half-and-half or heavy cream.
Scotch eggs are perfect for this time of year. Rather than blanket them with pork sausage, try chicken sausage. Depending on your crowd, you might use a spicy chorizo or Andouille.
Add to that a seasonal grated-carrot salad in butter lettuce "nests." This is not the typical raisin-studded, mayonnaise-dressed salad. It's fresh and flavorful, with parsley and a bright kefir-based dressing. Kefir — with the taste and texture of buttermilk and high levels of good bacteria — has all the health benefits of yogurt and is worth seeking out. You should be able to find it in a well-stocked grocery store; if not, substitute buttermilk.
There's a time to eat healthy — and that's most of the time — but there's a time to indulge a little too. Enjoy.
Scotch Eggs With Chicken Sausage
Makes 8 eggs
Use your choice of sausage, but if using denser pork sausage, you'll need a little more than a pound. I used — and loved — chicken chorizo sausage.
- 1 pound bulk chicken or turkey sausage
- 8 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled
- 3/4 cup crushed saltine crackers
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
Divide sausage into 8 equal portions. Working one at a time, press a portion of the sausage mixture into a patty. Set egg in patty and work sausage around it to completely enclose. Mix cracker crumbs and parsley; dredge each egg in cracker crumbs and place on a small, rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining sausage, eggs and cracker crumbs. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake, turning every 15 minutes, until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Cool 5 minutes, and serve.