After any big St. Patrick’s Day celebration there’s a good chance you’ll be left with two things: a beastly hangover from all the cheap, green beer and weeks worth of corned beef and cabbage in the fridge. Since there’s only so much hash one can reasonably consume having other options becomes crucial. Enter the strata, the classic brunch workhorse. Its perfection lies in being ready to go when you are by banishing the heaving lifting to the day before. Just toss practically anything with some bread, eggs and milk…love it and leave it, overnight anyway…and then savor breaking the fast the next day without breaking a sweat.
After the corned beef is gone, think about other favorite sandwich combos, then use this recipe as a guide to play with your food and make a strata of your very own!
10 cups fresh marble rye, cubed (it will reduce to around 8 cups after drying)
2 1/2 cups skim milk
1 cup thousand island dressing (I used a “light” store-bought dressing)
1 pound corned beef, cubed (use as much or as little as you have)
1/2 pound swiss cheese, sliced (grated would work too)
1 cup sauerkraut, drained
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Kosher salt, optional
- Start the day before by making your bread cubes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While it is warming up, cut your bread into bite-sized chunks. Don’t worry about them being all perfectly uniform. Place them on a cookie sheet in a single layer and bake for 10 minutes. Turn off the oven, but leave the tray inside with the door cracked slightly open until everything is cooled.
- Next, make your custard by combining the eggs, milk, 1000 island dressing and black pepper in a bowl or extra-large measuring cup. You can add salt if you like, but I find there is enough already in the meat, bread, dressing and cheese.
- Coat a 13×9-inch pan with cooking spray and spread half the bread cubes and half the corned beef cubes evenly across the bottom. Cover that with half the custard mixture.
- Spread all the cheese evenly across the first layer of bread, meat and custard. Top the cheese with the drained sauerkraut.
- Finally, make another layer with the remaining meat and bread cubes and top with the remaining custard.
- Cover the pan with foil and leave in the refrigerator overnight to let the bread absorb the custard.
- The next morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees while leaving the pan on the counter to take the chill off. I like to press down on the ingredients a little to make sure most of the custard has been absorbed by the bread. When ready, bake covered for one hour. Remove the foil and bake another 10-20 minutes until no longer runny and the bread on top is a little toasty.
- Let the strata rest for a few minutes to cool and set before you serve and nosh. If you’d like, garnish with chopped parsley or scallions and serve with spicy mustard on the side for a little extra zip.
Serves 8, handily