Chorizo and Red Pepper Strata
What is a Strata?
A strata is essentially a layered savory bread pudding. Layers of day-old bread, sauteed veggies, cheese and chicken, sausage or meat are bound together with an egg and milk or cream custard. The result is a puffy, aromatic, delicious one-dish meal. I think of strata almost as a bread-based lasagna.
There are a lot of great things about making a strata:
- Stratas are a great way to use stale bread
- They can be made of an infinite combination of ingredients
- They are a great way to make use of leftovers
- They are a wonderful way to feed a lot of people
- They can be prepared a day in advance and then simply cooked the day you serve them
Stratas are a good strategy for Christmas or Easter morning when you want to serve something special but don't want to spend the morning cooking while presents are being opened or Easter eggs are being hunted. Here is my latest strata, seasoned with Smoked Spanish paprika and filled with chorizo, red peppers, onions.
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Chorizo and Spanish Smoked Paprika
This strata gets its smoky flavor from the fresh Mexican chorizo and Spanish smoked paprika.
Mexican chorizo is an uncooked spiced ground meat, usually made from pork, but it can also be made from beef. It is sold two ways: 1) in sausage casing, and 2) simply as seasoned ground meat. Do not confuse Mexican chorizo with Spanish chorizo, which is a hard, spicy cured sausage that looks more like salami.
Brunch, Lunch or Dinner
While I generally think of serving a strata for dinner, a hearty strata like this one can also be served for lunch or dinner.
- 1 T butter
- 1 1-pound french or Italian loaf of bread, 1 day old
- Olive oil
- 1 pound fresh Mexican chorizo sausage, skins removed, and broken into 1" pieces
- 2 medium onions (about 2.5 cups), chopped
- 3 medium red peppers, seeded and diced into ½" pieces
- 1 pound mushrooms, washed, stemmed and sliced
- ½ t kosher salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- ½ t crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 t dried oregano
- 1 T smoked Spanish paprika
- 12 eggs
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups cream
- ¾ pound cheddar cheese, shredded
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ¾ cup green onions, sliced
- ½ cup cilantro leaves
- 1 avocado, sliced for garnish (optional)
- Sour cream or labneh to garnish (optional)
- Butter a 13 x 9 x 2" baking pan. Slice bread into 1" cubes. Set aside.
- Heat a large skillet over medium high and add a splash of olive oil. When oil is hot add chorizo and cook for about 5 minutes until the sausage is cooked through. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and cool.
- Add onions to the pan and saute over medium-high heat in the oil leftover from the chorizo. Cook for about 5 minutes until the onions begin to soften. Add the red peppers and mushrooms. Season with kosher salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, oregano and Spanish smoked paprika. Continue sauteing for about 10 minutes until vegetables are soft. Add additional olive oil if needed. Remove from heat and stir in the chorizo. Set aside.
- Whisk the eggs briefly to combine and then whisk in milk and cream. Set aside.
- Begin building your strata. Put half of the bread crumbs in the bottom of the 13 x 9 2 " baking pan. Cover with half of the vegetables and chorizo mmixture. Sprinkle half of the cheddar and parmesan cheeses on top of the vegetable mixture. Repeat so you have two layers of bread, vegetables and cheese.
- Slowly pour the milk and egg mixture over the strata. Use a spatula to press down on the strata to make sure everything is covered by the milk, cream and egg mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit in the refrigerator overnight.
- One hour and 45 minutes before you are ready to serve, bring the strata out of the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter for about 30 minutes to come to room temperature. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. Allow to sit 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
- Garnish with green onion, cilantro and avocado slices. Cut the strata into 12 squares and serve with sour cream or labneh.