As many of you know, my experience at Irish cooking school will always have a special influence on the way I cook and entertain. I created this recipe for a St. Patrick’s Day brunch, but just as the full Irish Breakfast is a staple in Ireland, this dish is great for breakfast or brunch year round. I love this recipe, because it’s a great make-ahead dish. Weekends pass quickly, so you deserve to be present and enjoy that mimosa (or three!). Cook all of the meats and vegetables the day before and assemble the ramekins/casserole dish the night before or early morning of the brunch. The recipe is best when the bread has proper time to soak up the egg mixture, so you can’t go wrong! While it’s in the oven, you can get other menu items ready and set out. Click here for a full menu plan and presentation inspiration to round out your breakfast menu.
PROPER IRISH BREAKFAST STRATA
Serves 6-8 | Recipe by Laura Boyd of Strawberry Banke Studio
- 6-8 thick slices of challah bread (any white bread – even croissants – will do!)
- Irish butter (enough to butter each slice – I love Kerrygold)
- 1 lb savory breakfast sausage and/or bacon
- 2 cups shredded Irish cheddar cheese (Colliers, Kerrygold, etc)
- 6 farm fresh or organic eggs, beaten (remember, simple recipe, so use the best of the basics!)
- 2 cups whole milk (or 1 cup milk with 1 cup cream for a richer custard)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 cup of chopped or sliced mushrooms
- 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes (sliced in half)
- Chopped parsley or chives for garnish
- 6-8 Individual ramekins (depending on size) or casserole dish
- Brown sausage or bacon. Remove from pan and drain grease so there is enough to coat pan and saute vegetables with (about 2 tablespoons). Add onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and saute until tender (remember to season with a little salt and pepper – it’s important to season every layer of a recipe!). Let cool. Chop sausage and/or bacon into bite size pieces.
- Mix eggs and milk (I like to pour some of the mixture into a glass measuring pitcher for easy pouring into the ramekins – remember to season egg mixture with a couple pinches of salt and pepper*). *Note: Be careful – eggs take on salt easily! A little goes a long way – my rule of thumb is one tiny pinch per egg.
- Butter slices of bread and cut slices into 1 inch cubes.
- In individual ramekins, place a layer of bread cubes and top with a bit of the onion, mushrooms, tomatoes and sausage/bacon. Top with a layer of shredded cheddar. Repeat with another layer of bread cubes, vegetables, meat, cheese, etc. until the ramekins are full.
- Slowly pour the egg and milk mixture over the bread until it appears that all the bread has soaked up mixture (it should be just like bread pudding – you may need to push down the layers a bit to ensure each layer of bread has soaked up the egg). Add more bread, etc. if needed to fill to the top.
- Cover with plastic wrap and chill ramekins on a sheet pan overnight if you want to plan ahead. If not, let the ramekins sit for at least 20-30 min before baking so the bread can fully soak up the egg mixtures. You can top with a little extra cheese before baking if you’d like. I also like to add a little knob or two of butter to the tops so they brown a little better.
- Bake at 325 degrees Farenheit until a knife comes out clean and egg mixture is cooked all the way through. Tops should be golden brown and bubbly.
- Let stand and cool a bit before serving – you want them to set slightly.
- Garnish with chopped parsley or chives!
I’d love to see what combinations you all come up with for this great breakfast staple – post in the comments or email me your recipes for a chance to be featured on Strawberry Banke! Enjoy!!