Now that I have my new kitchen, I spend way too much time there. Take last night for instance; snowing like mad, and under a winter storm warning, crawling into bed with a book sounded like the perfect evening -- but instead, I hauled out pans and ingredients and late into the night I assembled this strata of Italian Sausage, Apples and Cheddar Cheese. I thought it would be such a treat to eat this in the morning while reading my stack of newspapers and drinking my cappuccino, while gazing at the fresh, white snow outdoors.
Except, we did not eat this for breakfast. It was late when I finally did make it to bed and I still felt like reading. Needless to say, I stayed up too late and I slept too long. The strata ended up being our lunch. Still enjoyed it; just not in the way I had envisioned.
Sausage, Apple and Cheddar Strata
adapted from Cooking With Shelburne Farms: Food and Stories from Vermont
• 5 to 6 cups cubed sourdough bread
• 3 leeks thinly sliced, white parts only
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 3 large apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
• 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
• 1 pound Italian sausage, casing removed if in links
• 4 large eggs
• 4 cups Half & Half
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Place the bread cubes on a large rimmed baking sheet and place on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until they just begin to turn golden.
2. Meanwhile, sauté the leeks in the olive oil, sweating them until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the Italian sausage to the skillet and cook, stirring to break up any lumps, until the sausage is cooked through and no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
3. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, Half & Half, salt and pepper; set aside.
4. Lightly grease a 9 x13-inch baking dish. In the bottom of the dish, spread half of the sausage-leek mixture, top with half of the apples and half of the cheddar cheese. Top with all of the the toasted bread cubes. Layer the remaining sausage mixture and apples. Slowly pour the egg-cream mixture into the dish and finish by sprinkling with the remaining cheddar cheese. At this point you can either bake the strata immediately or cover and refrigerate over-night.
5. Bake the strata for 40 to 45 minutes, until golden.
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