Breakfast Strata with Spinach & Gruyere
This is one of my all-time favorites. From Cook's Illustrated "For Christmas Morning" -- it is rich, but if you only eat it every now and then I don't think it's so bad.
8-10 slices of supermarket French Bread (1/2 inch thick) or Italian bread
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 medium shallots, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1 pkg frozen chopped spinach (10 oz) thawed and squeezed dry
ground black pepper
1/2 cup medium dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
6 oz Gruyere cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
6 large eggs
1 3/4 cups half-and-half
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 225 degrees. Arrange bread in single layer on large baking sheet and bake until dry and crisp, about 40 minutes, turning slives over halfway through drying time. (alternatively, leave slices out overnight to dry) When cooled, butter slices on one side with 2 tablespoon butter; set aside.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Saute shallots until fragrant and translucent; about 3 minutes; add spinach and salt and pepper to taste and cook stirring occasionally, until spinach and shallots are combined, about 2 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl, set aside. Add wine to skillet, increase heat to medium high and simmer until reduced to 1/4 cup, 2-3 minutes; set aside.
3. Butter 8 inch square baking dish with remaining 1 tablespoon butter; arrange half the buttered bread slices, buttered side up, in single layer in dish. Sprinkle half of spinach mixture, then 1/2 cup grated cheese evenly over bread slices. Arrange remaining bread slices in single layer over cheese; sprinkle remaining spinach mixture and another 1/2 cup cheese evenly over bread. Whisk eggs in medium bowl until combined; whisk in reduced wine, half and half, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread layers; cover surface flush with plastic wrap, weigh down (I used 2 One lb boxes of brown or powdered sugar, laid side by side over plastic covered surface) and refrigerate overnight.
4. Remove dish from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature 20 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Uncover strata and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese evenly over surface. Bake until both edges and center are puffed and edges have pulled away slightly from sides of dish. (50-55 minutes -- or 60 minutes if you've doubled the recipe). Cool on wire rack 5 minutes, serve.