I'm all for hosting brunch as long as I don't have to wake up early. Which essentially means the whole shebang needs to be made in advance. This is fine when the menu consist of fruit salad, maybe some biscuits, rolls, bacon, but eggs in advance is a bit trickier. And let's be honest, for most, brunch just isn't brunch without eggs.
The strata (an egg-heavy bread pudding) is my answer to make-ahead eggs. Not only can you make it in advance, you kinda sorta have to. The bread needs to sit overnight and soak up the egg and cream mixture. When you bake it the next day, it becomes puffy, golden, and crunchy on the outside with a warm custard-like interior.
For this particular strata I used sautéed poblano chiles—those large, mild green chiles that look a bit like an elf's shoe. Dried poblano chiles are called anchos, but fresh they have a verdant flavor not all that different from a bell pepper but with a more complex smokiness to them. They are terrific stuffed, or in this case folded into eggs and baked.
Once you have this combination down, try riffing with your favorite flavors to give the recipe a new spin—spinach and queso fresco, perhaps? Maybe some cooked and crumbled bacon? The variations are infinite. You'll be surprised how a few ingredients in a baking dish can make a spectacular brunch, and one that doesn't interfere with sleeping in.
Oh, and don't be a loser like me and forget to put the cheese on (twice!!) it really brings the whole dish together.
Green Chile Strata Recipe
Adapted from CHOW
This easy brunch dish needs to sit in the refrigerator overnight, which actually makes it ideal for morning gatherings, just prep it the night before and pop it in the oven the next day. I use fresh tomatillo salsa which gives the strata some texture and bite, but for convenience sake you can substitute store-bought green enchilada sauce.
Makes 8 to 10 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large poblano chiles, stems and seeds removed, and chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 pound hearty country bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 (16-ounce) container sour cream (about 1 3/4 cups)
1 cup tomatillo salsa (or green enchilada sauce)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
8 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded cotija or Monterey Jack cheese
1. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add chiles and onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring ocassionally, until tender and starting to brown. Remove from heat and scrape into a large bowl.
2. Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and set aside. Add the bread, sour cream, salsa, and cilantro to the chile mixture and stir until everything is coated in sour cream. Transfer mixture to the baking dish and spread into an even layer.
3. Whisk together eggs, half-and-half, salt, cumin, and black pepper in a separate large bowl until well combined. Pour over bread, cover and refrigerate overnight.
4. Heat oven to 350°F. Remove strata from refrigerator about 20 to 30 minutes before you plan on baking it. Sprinkle cheese over the top and bake, uncovered, until strata is puffed, golden brown and set in the center, about 50 to 60 minutes. Serve hot with more salsa if desired.