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BackstoryThis is a great recipe for when you know you'll have guests coming over for brunch; it's multi-staged, so you have to plan ahead, but it's not difficult and it feeds a crowd. Easier than omelets or French toast, it bakes in the oven so you don't have to constantly check on it.
This recipe came from Cook's Illustrated, but really, you can use whatever fillings you like. Just make sure to keep the proportions roughly the same.
- * 8-10 ( 1/2" thick) slices French or Italian bread
- * 5 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- * 4 medium shallots, minced
- * 1 (10-oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry.
- * Salt and ground black pepper
- * 1/2 cup medium-dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
- * 6 oz Gruyere cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
- * 6 large eggs
- * 1 3/4 cups half-and-half
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 225 degrees. Arrange bread in single layer on large baking sheet and bake until dry and crisp, about 40 minutes, turning slices over halfway through drying time. (Alternatively, leave slices out overnight to dry.) When cooled, butter slices on one side with 2 tbsp butter; set aside.
- Heat 2 tbsp butter in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Saute shallots until fragrant and translucent, about 3 minutes; add spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach and shallots are combined, about 2 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl; set aside. Add wine to skillet, increase heat to medium-high, and simmer until reduced to 1/4 cup, 2 to 3 minutes; set aside.
- Butter 8" square baking dish with remaining 1 tbsp butter; arrange half the buttered bread slices, buttered side up, in single layer in dish. Sprinkle half of the spinach mixture, then 1/2 cup of grated cheese evenly over bread layer. Arrange remaining bread slices in single layer over cheese; sprinkle remaining spinach mixture and another 1/2 cup cheese evenly over bread. Whisk eggs in medium bowl until combined; whisk in reduced wine, half-and-half, 1 tsp salt and ground black pepper to taste. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread layers; cover surface flush with plastic wrap, weigh down (using a 2-lb box of salt or cornmeal, for example), and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
- Remove dish from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Uncover strata and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese evenly over surface; bake until both edges and center are puffed and edges have pulled away from the sides of the dish, about 50-55 minutes. Cool for at least five minutes and serve.