Friday, June 24, 2011

How To Have Brunch

What are you doing this weekend? Having me over for brunch, I hope. Get out your champagne mugs glasses!

Brunch is an institution: a special time where drinking in the daytime is not only appropriate, it is encouraged. I adhere to very strict Brunch Club Rules.

  1. At least one food item on the table must be made up of at least 50% eggs. 
  2. One food item must be 100% bacon.
  3. Each beverage consumed must be made up of at least 50% champagne (or other appropriately bubbled alcoholic intoxicant). This is my new favorite method of making a mimosa. You're welcome.

You should put some fruit on the table. It feels healthier this way. Coffee also helps. So does dining Al Fresco, if possible. Al Fresco is not that weird guy who lives around the corner from you; it is a fancy way of saying outdoors. Eating is one of the only outdoor activities I truly enjoy. To reiterate, the bubbly alcohol helps me enjoy outdoor activities. So does the bacon.

Here is a closeup of your 50%-egg-ingredient-brunch-component: a challah, sausage, pepper and swiss strata.

I'm probably going to get into trouble with the Strata Police here because I didn't weight this down or actually LAYER anything at all. But whatever. It's DELICIOUS. Here is how I make it.

No One Talks About Brunch Club Challah Strata
An original, by me.

At least five eggs
A couple of cups of milk
A loaf of challah (HOLLA!) bread
Salt, pepper, little bit of nutmeg if you have it
A pound of sausage
Peppers, one or two
Two cups of cheese, preferably emmentaal or gouda but that shit is expensive so just use bagged swiss. Nobody has to know. (Sorry for lying last week, guys.)
Maybe a cup of parmesan if you got it

On Saturday night (Rule #4: Brunch is always on SUNDAY!), get out the eggs, milk, bread, and salt and pepper. In a big bowl - bigger than you think! - whisk the eggs and add two cups of milk, whisking until combined. Set aside. Take your loaf of challah bread. Admire the work you - or the grocery store baker - took to braid it up, because you are going to ruin it. Cut the loaf of bread into one-inch cubes. NO BIGGER!

Add the cubed bread to the egg and milk mixture in the big bowl. Stir it up real good, like you mean it. If it's not swimming in milk, fill it up to the top so every piece of bread is awash in liquid. Put some plastic wrap on top (does anyone else have as much trouble with plastic wrap as I do?). Put it in the fridge. Go do your Saturday night thing, whatever that may be. Who am I to judge.

Sunday morning! Wake up. Forget about Saturday night. It's BRUNCH TIME! Get out a casserole dish, a pretty one. Get out your big bowl of eggy bready ish. Be amazed at how much of the egg and milk those one-inch cubes of holla-back-bread have soaked up. It's science! Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Cook the sausage all the way through over medium heat. While it is cooking, dice your peppers. If you want to add some onions that is a great idea. When the sausage is cooked through, add the peppers to the pan. Get some color on them. Add the sausage and pepper bonanza to the big bowl of eggy bready ish. Stir it up REAL GOOD. Add the whole bag of swiss cheese. Continue stirring. Pour the entire ridiculous mess into the pretty casserole dish. It is going to look overflowy. This is good. You want this. Smash it all down with the back of a spoon or your hands if you are me. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top.

Bake at 350 F for 50-60 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn on the oven light and take a moment to admire how high the strata has puffed up. It looks like a giant mushroom muffin! It is going to taste so good. Basically I eyeball it when it looks "done" - when it's super puffy and looks like it might explode, and nice and golden brown on top. (
J Fierce editorial note: Like some of our readers - all 12 of you - I prefer accuracy. I stick a fork in it, and if it comes out with a couple of bits sticking to it, it's done.) Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

EN FIN. Other brunch things you can do while this is happening: make bacon, make a fruit salad, drink bubbly and coffee, forget about Saturday night.

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