What do you do with an extra loaf of bread? Freeze it. What do you do when your freezer starts piling up with loaves of bread? Make Creamy Sausage Strata of course. While not a bread recipe, this contribution to breadology offers an answer to the age old question of what to do with perfectly fine bread that may otherwise go to waste.
My Mom had several ways to recycle almost-stale bread. She made croutons, bread crumbs for breading, and french toast. One of my favorite ways to extend the life of a loaf is to make strata.
A strata (which means “layer”) is a dish comprised of layers of ingredients. Most recipes that I have seen include eggs, milk, cheeses, and bread as a base – along with a variety of other ingredients. What makes this strata special is that it comes from The Oppenneer Family Cookbook, a collection of recipes my Mom gathered (many of which I was raised on with others contributed by extended family members). See for example, this Cold Veggie Pizza recipe, one of my contributions. It is really nice to cook something from it that my Mom used to make and receive the gift of memories that come back with the familiar smells of cooking food.
Cook the sausage
You can really use anything in a strata. The core ingredients offer a nice foundation on which to build your own interesting flavors. I’ve had this particular recipe with bacon, Canadian bacon, ground beef, and pork sausage (which this recipe calls for). When I make it nowawdays, I tend to use Italian-style turkey sausage – which is what is pictured below:
Grease the dish
While the sausage is cooking, you can grease your dish. I’m sure there are many ways to do this, but I have always “colored” the dish with a stick of butter. It is slippery and messy and terribly fun.
My Dad recently moved out of our house to an assisted living facility nearby. For the four plus years he lived with us, I made him egg sandwiches for his breakfasts on weekend mornings. When I started this site, I was making bread every other weekend or so and freezing extra loaves and remainders in baggies. I used this bread for Dad’s sandwiches – and for this recipe, I used three baggies of different breads from the freezer. We ate it for our Christmas meal – the last family dinner we had before he moved. Such is the power of family recipes to mark important passages…
For flavor, I toasted some green onion to toss into the mixture of milk, eggs, etc. and whisked it passionately. Everything in the kitchen should be done passionately (with the possible exception of pouring). I dispassionately poured the mixture over the bread cubes.
Layer on the cooked sausage, cheddar cheese, and cream cheese. In the past, I have added other ingredients such as broccoli, cauliflower, and sun-dried tomatoes. Cover it with foil and let it set in the fridge overnight. As a testament to how incredibly yummy this recipe is, it was gobbled up so quickly I didn’t have a chance to take a picture of the finished product. Okay, I admit – I forgot to take that picture… but seriously, this dish will go quickly. I have never met a belly that wasn’t completely satisfied with this awesome strata.
Update: Took a picture that last time I made strata. I’m going to drop it here and pretend it was the one from the original post. Yeah, no one will ever know the difference…
My Mom’s introduction
From the Oppenner Family Cookbook: “This is one of our favorite weekend breakfasts. It’s especially nice when you have company since it has to be refrigerated overnight so the work can be done in advance. This is also good for lunch or dinner, hot or cold, anytime really. We got the recipe in Germany from our hospital commander’s wife, Sally Bussey. We also used it at Escapades. If you have an oven with a timed-bake cycle, you can put it in the oven early and not think about it until the timer goes off.”
Creamy Sausage Strata with homemade bread
What do you do with an extra loaf of homemade bread? Freeze it. What do you when your freezer starts piling up with loaves of bread? Make Creamy Sausage Strata of course.
- 8-10 slices bread
- ¼ pound (1 stick) butter
- 12 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
- 8 ounces cream cheese cut into small cubes
- 1 pound hot pork sausage cooked until browned
- 8 large eggs lightly beaten
- 2 cups milk
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 tablespoon snipped chive
- Dash of cayenne pepper
Remove the crusts, and dice bread into cubes. (I make breadcrumbs out of the crusts.) Place evenly i n a well- greased, 9-inch by 13-inch glass casserole dish.
Melt the butter and pour over bread cubes. Sprinkle evenly with the cheeses and cooked sausage.
Beat together eggs, milk, salt , mustard, and pepper; pour over the cheese/bread mixture. Sprinkle with chives. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
About 1½ hours before you wish to eat, preheat oven to 325 degrees
Bake covered for 50 minutes or until egg mixture is set. Uncover and cook for 10 minutes more.