Thursday, June 25, 2009
Christmas morning at my parent's house is always something I look forward to. The lights, the tree, the presents... the mimosas! Christmas breakfast, on the other hand...
My parents, like any good Italian-Irish parents, go nuts on the holiday food. Christmas Eve dinner is always a feast of seven fishes, Christmas dinner always involves my dad's spectacular garlic and turkey broth minestrone with plenty of beans and escarole, but Christmas breakfast has, for as long as I can remember, featured a sausage, cheese, bread and egg concoction that the rest of the family calls "strata" and I call a holiday disaster.
It's not that the premise is bad. Strata is like a savory bread pudding - egg and milk soaked bread baked with cheese and meat. What could be bad about that? I think it's the sausage that pushes it over the line for me. I like every single kind of meat in the universe - except breakfast sausage. Maybe it's the fennel, or the inevitable fake maple syrup flavor. Whatever it is, though, it makes me kinda queasy whenever I get a whiff of it. So every Christmas, I gorge myself on homemade cinnamon rolls and scrambled eggs while trying to dodge the wafting strata fumes.
I digress. Strata is a great idea. It uses up all of your leftovers and it tastes really good, when it's not chock-full of Jimmy Dean. By the time I made this on Tuesday night, my chard was getting kind of wilty and the sell-by date on my chicken sausages was rapidly approaching. But mixed up in a casserole dish with some bread that had seen better days - and some brand-new milk and eggs from the bodega - my veggies became a tasty dinner that was even tastier for breakfast the next day.
It kinda freaked me out, though. Putting chicken sausage in an egg dish. As I was pouring the eggs in the casserole dish, I was like, "Eggs... meet your mommy!"
Chard and Chicken Sausage Strata
one bunch of chard
clove of garlic
scallions, if you got 'em
three chicken sausages (I used Italian-style, but you can use whatever you feel like. Veggie sausage might make the whole chicken and egg thing less creepy, too. Or pork. I have no objections to pork.)
four big slices of white bread, or five smaller slices of white bread
a cup and a half of milk
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, if you are the kind of person who can remember to preheat your oven. (I'm not.) Saute the chard and scallions in olive oil and garlic until they're all wilted. Then take the greens out of your pan and add the chicken sausages. Cook them until they're done. Mine were pre-cooked so I just cooked them til they got a little crispy. Dump the sausage in your casserole dish. Chop up the bread into big chunks and put that on top of the sausage. Then put the chard on top of that. Mix up the eggs and milk with some salt and pepper and pour it into the casserole, making sure to smush the bread down a little so it all gets soaked. If you are me, this is the point where you will remember to turn your oven on. It's okay. The bread will just soak a little extra while you wait for it to heat up!
Anyway, cook the strata for 50 to 60 minutes. You'll know it's done when it gets all browned and fluffy and a knife to the middle comes out clean. It's tasty hot or cold, on cozy winter holidays with your family or on rainy summer days while you're scrambling around getting ready for work.