If you want to serve something warm and nourishing for breakfast, but you want a relaxing morning without lots of cooking and cleaning up, the solution is to prepare strata the night before. It is almost like a savory bread pudding. This kind of casserole can be pretty high in fat grams, but I use chicken broth and reduced-fat mayonnaise to trim some of the fat. You need cooked chicken for this strata, so if you're pressed for time, buy a rotisserie-cooked chicken at the supermarket.
Servings: Serves 6–8
Ingredients 1 tablespoon unsalted butter1 medium onion , finely chopped3 ribs celery , finely chopped6 ounces asparagus , woody stems discarded, cut into 1-inch pieces1/4 cup water4 cups cubed (1-inch cubes) cooked chicken (20 ounces)1 cup mayonnaise , preferably reduced-fat1 1/2 cups milk1 1/2 cups chicken broth , preferably low-sodium6 large eggs1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives1 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper6 cups cubed (1-inch cubes) French or Italian bread (6 ounces)1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and water and cover. Cook until the asparagus is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Uncover and cook until all liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl.
Add the chicken and mayonnaise and mix well. Whisk the milk, broth, eggs, parsley, chives, salt and pepper in another bowl.
Lightly butter a 13x9-inch glass baking dish. Spread half of the bread cubes in the dish, then top with the chicken mixture. Spread the remaining cubes over the chicken. Slowly pour the egg mixture over the ingredients in the dish. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 10 hours.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F.
Bake the strata for 45 minutes. Sprinkle the top with the cheese, and bake until the cheese is melted and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes more. Let stand for 5 minutes, then serve hot.
From Back to the Table by Art Smith