The word strata means layers, and in this case layers of potato, ham, fluffy, rich egg custard and creamy cheese. I learned to make strata when I lived in New Orleans. It was always a big seller at brunch, served with a green salad with a smoked tomato vinaigrette. The traditional recipe calls for slices of bread layered with cheese and egg custard. I prefer to use thinly sliced potatoes for a heartier meal. This version calls for ham and cheddar, but most any combination of meat, cheese and even roasted vegetables will work. It's a great way to use leftovers. Like a lasagna, strata always tastes better the next day.
Ham and Cheddar Strata
Difficulty Level: 2 (out of 5)
6 medium sized Russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 thick*
4 large eggs
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups thin sliced deli ham, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the eggs with the cream in a bowl and set aside. Have your shredded cheese and chopped ham ready to go. Slice the potatoes with a mandolin or a very sharp knife (the potato slices need to be consistent in thickness so that they cook evenly).
2. Coat a 13 x 9 cake pan with non-stick spray. Cover the bottom with a layer of potatoes, overlapping slightly (or shingling). Season with a little salt and pepper. Add a layer of ham and cheese. Repeat these steps until the pan is full, finishing with a ham and cheese layer on top. Pour the egg and cream mixture over the top and tap the pan gently to settle the liquid.
3. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes. Check to see if the potatoes are cooked through by poking a knife in the middle of the strata. If there is no resistance, they're done. If not, cook for another 10-15 minutes and check again. Cool completely, cover and refrigerate (unless you are serving it right away).
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pull your strata from the refrigerator and let it sit for about 30 minutes, bringing it up to room temperature this will decrease your reheating time and make sure that it won't be cold in the middle.
2. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Test to see if it's hot all the way through by inserting the tip of a knife in the middle, wait 5 seconds, then feel the knife. If it's hot, your strata is ready. If still cool, bake for another 10 minutes and check again.
3. Slice into squares and serve.