Eggier than its bread pudding sibling, strata can be served as a main course for a brunch or a casual supper. We like to make this version with tender asparagus and leeks and salty bits of prosciutto when the days get warmer in spring. Como, Peasant and Sourdough work especially well for this dish.
Makes 10 to 12 servings
1 pound, 8 ounces Grand Central Bakery hearth bread (day old is fine), sliced into 2-inch chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ small onion, diced (2/3 cup)
1 large leek, sliced, (white part and some of light green)
1 ½ cups diced asparagus (6 ounces)
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup white wine
8 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
2 cups half and half
1 cup whole milk
Freshly ground black pepper
4-5 slices of prosciutto
Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan or large casserole dish and line it with half the bread cubes, pressing lightly to fit the pieces together.
Heat the oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and leek a generous pinch of salt and saute until onion is starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and saute for another 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for 30 seconds, then pour in the wine and cook, stirring occasionally until liquid is reduced by half.
Spread the vegetables over the bread and sprinkle with half the cheese.
Crack the eggs into a bowl, add the half-and-half and milk, a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper, and whisk until smooth.
Arrange a second layer of bread over the cheese, then pour the custard over the bread. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the custard. Cut prosciutto into 1- to 2-inch pieces and place them evenly over the top of the strata. Cover with plastic wrap and weight the top with a platter or plate. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Let the strata come to room temperature while the oven preheats. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. The filling should be set and top should be a deep golden brown.
From Grand Central Bakery