Roasted Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Breakfast Strata

  • 6 to 8 thick slices of rustic country bread, we like Red Hen Waitsfield Common
  • 3 onions
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 lb sliced wild mushrooms
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 10 fresh farm eggs
  • 2 cups cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup grated gruyere cheese
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Preheat your oven to 300°F.

Arrange the slices of bread on a baking sheet and place it in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the bread is very dry and crunchy, like large croutons.

For the onions: In a large skillet with a lid over very low heat, add 3 Tbsp of olive oil, the onions and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Mix and cover.  Caramelized onions are best if they cook very slow over low heat for about 45-60 minutes.  Let them cook, stirring them every 10-15 minutes until they are golden brown and very soft.  When they are done, set them aside and let them cool.

For the mushrooms: In a large, heavy bottomed skillet, heat the vegetable oil over high heat.  Make sure you oil is hot!  Add the mushrooms.  When you add them, do not move them around in the pan at all for at least 60 seconds.  This will give them a lovely brown crust!  After a minute, begin to move them gently with a wooden spoon, turning them every minute or so until they are tender, about 4 minutes.  Add the shallots and thyme, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and the butter.  Cook one minute more, stirring constantly.  Remove from the heat and drain on a paper towel lined plate.

Combine the finished mushrooms and onions in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk and cream and whisk together thoroughly. Season the mixture with a sprinkle of salt and black pepper, and set it aside.

Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature before assembling your strata. Prepare an 8×8 inch baking dish by greasing the sides and bottom with butter.

Arrange 3 to 4 slices of toasted bread on the bottom of the baking dish. Cut the pieces of bread to fit together so the entire surface of the dish is covered. Spread the onion and mushroom mixture evenly over the bread, then layer another 3 to 4 slices of bread on top. Very carefully pour the egg mixture over the layers.

Place a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the strata so that it touches the surface. Place the bag of rice or whatever kind of weight you choose on top and place the weighted strata in the refrigerator for at least one hour and up to overnight.

When you are ready to bake your strata, remove the weight and plastic wrap and sprinkle the grated cheese over the top.  Place the strata into a preheated 325°F oven. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes or until the top is golden brown, the edges have puffed up and pulled away from the sides of the pan and the center is firm to the touch. Cool the strata for at least 15 minutes before serving (this will help it set up).