The Chickens and the Strata

Lola, Pearl, Betty and Minnie (Ginger and Henrietta not pictured)

Last spring we got our first chickens and I absolutely love having them!  They provide tons of amusement, especially for my son who loves to chase them around the backyard and pick them up and hold them on his lap.  In addition to being totally amusing, they provide us with the most delicious, freshest eggs anywhere.  I make a lot of eggs in our house, scrambles, quiches, omelets, you name it.  I also love a good strata and often make them when we’re having company for brunch since they are put together the night before which makes for a stress-free morning.  One of my favorite recipes is super simple and everyone always loves it.  You can make this with our without the sausage.

Spinach, Cheese and Sausage Strata

  • 1 (10-oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (1 large)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (omit if using sausage)
  • 8 cups cubed (1 inch) French or Italian bread (approx. 3/4 lb)
  • 6 oz grated Gruyère (2 cups)
  • 2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 cup)
  • 2 3/4 cups whole milk
  • 9 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/4 lb. ground mild Italian sausage, cooked and broken up into small pieces
Squeeze handfuls of spinach to remove as much liquid as possible.
Cook onion in butter in a large heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in spinach, then remove from heat.
Spread one third of bread cubes in a buttered 3-quart gratin dish or other shallow baking dish and top evenly with one third of spinach mixture and one third of the sausage if using. Sprinkle with one third of each cheese. Repeat layering twice (ending with cheeses).
Whisk together milk, eggs, mustard, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl and pour evenly over strata. Chill strata, covered with plastic wrap, at least 8 hours (for bread to absorb custard).
Preheat oven to 350°F. Let strata stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
Bake strata, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 50 to 60 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Spinach, cheese and sausage strata