Cheesy Mushroom and Kale Brioche Strata with Pancetta
This hearty cheesy bread pudding and stuffing hybrid can take the place of traditional holiday stuffing or be served as a side for dinner. Chunks of brioche bread are tossed with pancetta, sautéed mushroom, and kale then combined with an egg mixture and topped with an abundance of cheese.
Strata and bread pudding recipes usually call for the use of stale bread. Why? Bread that has been dried of most of its moisture will hold up when soaked in the egg mixture. Instead of turning to complete mush it will keep some of its texture. Have you waited until the last minute to plan the menu and only have a fresh loaf of bread? If it’s the day before, just slice and leave the bread on the counter. If it’s hours before the dish should be assembled, cut the bread into cubes and spread on a baking sheet. Heat the oven to 300º and bake dry for about 10 – 15 minutes.
To make holiday prep easier, the strata mixture can be assembled a day ahead of time, then covered and refrigerated until baking. These types of recipes are my favorite for entertaining because it eliminates so much of the stress from hosting. The dish is just popped in the oven and time is freed up for other duties.
½ cup diced pancetta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for baking
3 cloves garlic, chopped
6 ounces crimini mushrooms, quartered
Kosher salt, as needed
Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
2 (packed) cups chopped Tuscan kale
1 pound leftover brioche bread, cut into 2-inch pieces
1½ cups whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
Add the pancetta to a medium sauté pan and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally until crispy and fat has rendered in the pan, about 8 minutes. Remove the pancetta from the pan to a large mixing bowl, reserving as much fat in the pan as possible.
Return the pan to heat, add the butter and allow to melt then add the garlic and mushrooms, sautéing until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add to the bowl with the pancetta. Toss together with the kale and bread.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, heavy cream, nutmeg and cayenne then pour over the bread mixture, using hands to completely coat everything in the bowl.
Pour the mixture into a 9-inch x 12-inch greased baking dish or 10-inch cast iron skillet and top with the cheese. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the cheese is golden brown and the mixture is puffed in the middle and set, about an additional 20 minutes.