by John Ryan
Serves 4 to 6
I picked this recipe up from a magazine several years ago. They called it a strata. I liked the recipe, but didn't like calling it a strata. I mean, what's a strata? So I took to calling it a crouton casserole and the name stuck. Like flannel sheets, crouton casserole doesn't sound sexy, but wait until you try it. Cold winter mornings won't be the same.
About 2 hours
1 huge mixing bowl
A couple smaller mixing bowls
1 or 2 baking dishes that will hold a combined 9 to 10 cups
350 degree F. oven
4 cups cubed, quasi-dried out bread (3/4-inch cubes)
1 medium onion, sliced
1 big bell pepper, sliced
12 ounces mushrooms, quartered (about 3 cups)
Oil or butter
2 cups milk
1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
2 cups grated cheddar cheese (approximately 8 ounces)
1. Cut up about 4 cups of bread and spread it out on a couple cookie sheets the night before. You don't want the cubes crunchy hard, but you don't want them mushy soft either.
2. In the morning, turn your oven on to 350 degrees F. Then start sautéing the onion, pepper and mushrooms in stages in oil or butter until they are soft and a little brown. Dump them into a large mixing bowl as they are done.
3. As the vegetables cook, stir the eggs, milk, mustard, salt, and pepper in another mixing bowl and set aside.
4. When all the vegetables are done, stir the cubed bread with the vegetables, then stir in about half the grated cheese and spread the mixture in a baking dish (or dishes). Pour the milk mixture over the bread and vegetables and scatter the remaining cheese over the top. Don't cover. Bake until a knife comes out of the center clean, about 1-1/4 hours. The exact time will depend on how deep your baking dish is. A clue: When the casserole is done, the middle gets puffy.
Both chef and musician, John Ryan wrote the Just Good Food blog from 1996 through 2001.
This page created November 1999
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