Skillet Strata Recipes breakfast skillet strata photo
Strata is just what it sounds like: layers. Strata recipes always include eggs, milk, and leftover bread. The bread is usually the bottom layer and the eggs are the top layer. What goes in the middle layers is based on your imagination and personal taste. The skillet recipe I am using is one based on speed. Classic preparations have the dish as a casserole that is prepped the night before, brought to room temperature 30 minutes prior to baking, and generally take between 30 minutes and an hour to cook. By partially cooking the ingredients on the range, then finishing in the oven, the cooking time is cut down to under 30 minutes. The dish can be quite rich when using whole milk, cheese, and cream. I choose to keep the fat low with skim milk and low fat cheeses. I also choose to keep the carbs down with whole grain (or hi-pro/low carb) bread.

Here are the general skillet strata prep and cooking rules:
  • breads used can vary according to taste, but toasted, crusty, or at least stale (as in dry) will assure best results
  • all coarse ingredients need to be cut to bite size, and generally similar in size
  • meat ingredients need to be fully cooked before including them in the strata
  • veggies should also be fully cooked, sauteing with onions is alway good
Some obvious combinations:
  • multi-grain bread, bacon or ham, onions, cheddar cheese (traditional American breakfast)
  • 1/4" base layer of well done hash browns, chopped patty sausage, grits, onions, cheddar cheese (Southern breakfast)
  • any toasted white bread, chirizo sausage, onions, peppers, jack cheese, salsa garnish (huevos rancheros approach)
  • sour dough bread, cooked salmon, onions, peas, garlic (PNW approach)
  • whole wheat, shredded chicken, brocolli tops, cheddar cheese (American comfort meal)
  • Italian herb croutons, chicken chunks, canned diced tomatoes, garlic, parmesan cheese (Italian approach)
  • any bread, sauted onions, shredded beef, 3/4 of the milk + sour cream, mushrooms (Stroganoff approach)
  • Caesar flavored croutons, frozen spinach sauted with onion, sliced black olives, feta or goat cheese (Greek approach)
  • rye or pumpernickel bread, corned beef or pastrami, krout, swiss cheese, and Thousand Island dressing garnish (Deli approach)
  • dessert versions are like bread pudding and can take your creativity to an entirely different universe with peaches, apples, berries and so on!
Basic ingredients for skillet strata
  • 8 oz or 5 slices of sandwich-size loaf bread, cut to 1/2-1" cubes
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup hard cheese, coarsely shredded or cubed
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 T olive or other cooking oil
  • up to 1 cup total of cooked, chopped ingredients (like veggies and meats)
  • season to taste
Preheat oven to 450*F with top rack moved to center of oven.
Using a non-stick, oven proof skillet (10" or more), saute onions and other coarse ingredients in olive oil for 8-10 minutes or until slightly soft. While these are cooking, combine eggs, milk, and seasonings in mixing bowl and wisk together. Remove skillet ingredients and reserve nearby. While still on range top, more oil if the skillet is dry, then add bread cubes and stir until slightly toasty. Remove skillet from burner, and cover handle with aluminum foil. Arrange bread cubes in single first layer. Distribute cooked ingredients evenly over bread cubes as the second layer. Sprinkle cheese evenly over entire skillet to make the third layer. Slowly pour egg mixture over the entire skillet making the forth layer. Using a spatula, gently press down any bread cubes that begin to float. Place on middle rack in oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until strata is puffy and slightly browned. Outside edges tend to cook first, so test the middle for doneness (clean tooth pick or fork). 
Nutritional information for All American breakfast approach using healthy ingredients:
A single slice is a 1 carb equivalent and for a complete breakfast I just add serving of fruit or juice. By my calculations a 1/8 slice of a 10" skillet is 235 calories.
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