Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Sweet Italian Sausage And Asparagus Strata

on August 5, 2014

Strata just means a layered casserole. They can be sweet or savory. I guess you could say it’s almost like a type of bread pudding. Anytime I’m looking for a recipe that will feed at least six people this is the type of dish I go for. Not to mention, that it’s such a comfort food in every sense of the word. Le’ts start from the beginning…

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I have here a Fresno chili, 2 cloves of garlic, and about 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves. I going to start with 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan, on med heat,  and add these ingredients to the oil. I want to flavor the oil before adding the mushrooms,

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Now that the flavorings have started to soften, I’m going to add in some sliced mushrooms, 1 pint of your favorite is just fine. Here I used some white button mushrooms.

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Now what I like to do at this point is let these mushrooms get a nice brown color to them so I saute them on med heat until they get some great color to them.

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At this point I sprinkle in a little Kosher salt and pepper making sure to season each layer of this dish. I wait until the mushrooms get brown before salting them, otherwise they release to much water from the salt and will steam instead of sauteing and getting nice and caramelized. Next I add 1 pound of sweet Italian sausage to the pan with a few spices.

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I add a teaspoon each of fennel seeds, oregano, and dried thyme.

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I also add 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, but dried will work just fine too. Rosemary and sausage just go so well together. That earthy piney sent is awesome in this dish.

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Now I start to brown of the sausage with the mushrooms.

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I let the sausage saute, again adding a pinch of kosher salt and pepper, until it has some beautiful color and is cooked through.

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Moving forward it’s time to add the fresh spinach and chopped thawed frozen asparagus to the mixture. Another sprinkling of Kosher salt.

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I want to keep that beautiful green color, so I immediately turn off the heat once the spinach has wilted and I throw in the chopped thawed asparagus. Remember this dish still has to go into an oven, so at this point just set this mixture aside.

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Next is the bread portion of this recipe. I used a Ciabatta that I cubed up into 2 inch pieces. I set the oven to 300 degrees and baked them until they were dry, about 20 minutes. I don’t want them to start browning just to become dry. Having bought the bread that day, it was necessary to place them onto sheet pans so they would dry out a little before adding them into the dish.  I had the bread cubes in the oven while working on the other ingredients for the filling. Adding the custard into this dish, the bread will absorb the liquid and still hold its shape. Ideally you want to use day old bread, nothing that too fresh. Fresh bread would just fall apart after adding the liquid to it and that just wouldn’t be good at all.

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Now I don’t want any brown color on the bread, I just want it to be really good and dried out. That’s why I had it in the oven on a low temperature and watched it carefully. As soon as they feel like hard nuggets take them out. Let’s move on to the custard portion. I know it seems like a lot of steps but they are very easy ones and the end result will be well worth it.

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First I like to make sure the eggs and “milks” are at room temperature. In a large bowl crack 1 dozen large eggs. To that add 2 cups of whole milk,1 cup of half and half. Grate up 4 ounces each of Fontina and Gruyere cheese and 1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Reserve 1/4 cup of the Parmigiano  and a little each of the other cheeses back, to sprinkle all over the top of the strata.

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Whisk the eggs, milk, and half and half together then add 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. To that add the cheese.

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In the largest bowl you can find place the sausage and mushroom mixture along with all the cubed bread.

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Next pour the custard mixture over the top of this.

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Mix this all through really well and let sit for around 10 minutes so the bread can absorb all that liquid, or at least most of it. In the mean time get a deep casserole dish and lightly butter it all over. This will make it easier for the strata to come out later.

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After the 10 minutes or so has passed, pour the mixture into the casserole dish and sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top. I then drizzle a little olive oil over the top to ensure the bread browns evenly.

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I bake this in a 350 degree, pre-heated,oven for anywhere from 45-55 minutes. Check on it after 40 minutes or so to see if it has set. It should feel somewhat firm to the touch, and you shouldn’t see any liquid around the sides or coming up through the center. I like to stick a wooden skewer into the center and if it comes out clean then it’s ready. Let the strata rest for a least 20 minutes before cutting.

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Does this not look delicious! You can #tastethelove from here.
Yields: 6 servings
Prep Time: 30-40 minutes ( this includes the cooking of all the ingredients going into the Strata)
Bake: 350 degrees F.
Cook Time: 45-55 minutes
Ingredients:
unsalted butter for greasing the dish
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 seeded and mince Fresno chili
2 minced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves
1 pint of sliced button mushrooms
1 tablespoon plus teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon plus 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage
1 sprig of fresh chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 package of fresh spinach leaves
1 package of thawed frozen asparagus cut into 2 inch pieces
1 loaf of Ciabatta cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes and toasted
a dozen room temperature eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 cup Half and Half
4 ounces grated Gruyere cheese (reserve a little for the top)
4 ounces grated Fontina cheese (reserve a little for the top)
1/2 cup of Parmiagino- Reggiano cheese (reserve 1/4 cup for the top)

Directions: Butter casserole dish for the Strata. Next cut the Ciabatta cubes up into 2 inch cubes, spread them out on sheet pans and bake for 20 minutes or until dry at 300 degrees. While the bread’s in the oven start the filling. On med heat, add the olive oil to a large saute pan. Next saute the Fresno and garlic until fragrant. Next, add in the sliced mushrooms and thyme leaves. saute this until mushrooms have browned, about 5 minutes or so. Then season with salt and pepper. To the pan, add in the sweet Italian sausage. Break the sausage up with a wooden spoon. Add in the rosemary, fennel seeds, dried oregano, dried thyme, Kosher salt, and pepper to taste. Saute until all the sausage is nicely brown. This should take another 10 minutes or so. Once the sausage has browned and cooked through add in the the fresh spinach leaves. Toss the leaves through until just wilted, then turn off the heat. Add in the thawed chopped asparagus pieces and toss those through. Set the filling mixture aside while making the custard. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, add the milk, grated cheeses, salt, and pepper. Whisk all those together. Next, remove the bread cubes from the oven. Let the bread cool down for 10 minutes. In a very large bowl, mix the sausage mixture together with the bread cubes carefully. To that, pour over the custard and toss through gently. Let sit for 10 minutes giving the bread a chance to absorb the custard. Then, pour all this into the buttered casserole dish and spread everything out evenly. Take the reserved cheeses and sprinkle them over the top. Bake this dish for 45-55 minutes or until you can see no more liquid coming up on the sides or up through the center. Once a wooden skewer comes out clean, the dish is done. The Strata should be nice and golden brown on the top.


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