Ham and Asparagus Strata

Ham and asparagus strata, with rustic bread, egg, Gruyere cheese, milk, cream, ham, and asparagus

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 o 8.

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf Italian or French rustic bread, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes, about 8 cups total of bread cubes
  • 1 pound asparagus spears, woody ends removed, spears cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • Salt (for blanching water)
  • 1 medium bowl of ice water
  • 2 Tbsp softened butter (for buttering the dish)
  • 6-ounces ham, cut into 1/4-inch cubes, about 2 cups
  • 4-ounces Gruyere cheese, grated, about 1 cup, packed
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups cream
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon (or thyme)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

 

  • 8x11x2¼ casserole baking dish

Method

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1 Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spread the cubed bread over a baking dish or sheet pan in a single layer. Place in oven and bake until lightly toasted, about 7 to 8 minutes. Remove and set aside. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F.

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2 In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, salt, pepper, and tarragon. Set aside.

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3 Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil (1 1/2 teaspoons of salt). Add the cut asparagus to the boiling water. Return to a boil and blanch the asparagus for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the asparagus to a bowl of ice water to shock the asparagus and stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.

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4 Spread butter over the inside of a 8x11x2¼-inch casserole dish. Spread half of the bread cubes over the bottom of the casserole dish. Sprinkle half of the ham cubes over the bread. Sprinkle half of the asparagus over the ham. Sprinkle everything with half of the Gruyere cheese. Pour half of the milk egg mixture over everything.

5 Repeat the process. Add another layer of cubed bread, ham, asparagus, Gruyere, and milk egg mixture. Press down on the mixture with your (clean) hands to help the bread soak up more of the milk mixture. (At this point you can make up to a day ahead, cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.)

6 Cover with aluminum foil and place in the 350°F oven for 40 minutes. Remove the foil. Bake uncovered for an additional 20 to 30 minutes, until the egg mixture is set. Test by inserting a sharp knife into the center of the casserole. If the inside is still runny, it's not cooked through yet and needs more time in the oven. If the top starts to get too browned, you can cover again with aluminum foil.

Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

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Comments

  1. Katie A

    Elise, it looks like you used a rather dense sourdough, yes? Is a softer loaf okay? This looks terrific – love that there is some green in the mix – sorta cancels out the cream, Gruyere, butter, etc. :-)

    • Elise

      Hi Katie, I think we used an Italian loaf. Not sourdough. I don’t really like sourdough actually, so wouldn’t use it in this. You lightly toast the cubed bread first, so you need to use a bread that will hold up to this.

  2. Sandy S

    Elise this looks so good! I tend to avoid pork and red meats but do eat fish and fowl. Do you think this would work with cubed oven roasted chicken or turkey thighs in place of the ham?

  3. Mary Ann

    Hello, Elise:

    This will be my Easter brunch headliner with veggie sausage substituting for ham. I am a huge fan of stratas – you can’t go wrong with them.
    Question – do you remove the bread crust? I think I would enjoy a little added chewiness.
    Thank you for this and all of your other delicious recipes.

  4. Denise

    Hi, Elise!

    I may be the only person on the planet who can’t get excited about asparagus in springtime. Any chance broccoli might work instead?

    Best,
    Denise

  5. Robert Yesselman

    I know that you’ve answered a similar question, but is it necessary to parboil the asparagus at all? Seems to me with all the baking time, the asparagus will turn to mush. No? Thanks – looks wonderful!

    • Elise

      You can try skipping the blanching if you want. If you do, please let us know how it turns out for you. I found that blanching the asparagus resulted in the perfect texture and doneness in this recipe. You don’t want the asparagus to be crunchy or too firm in this strata.

  6. Chad

    I’m planning on making this for Easter, however a ham is already on the menu. If I substitute bacon, should I cook it before hand or put it in the casserole raw?

  7. Lauren

    I love this! Since we are already having ham with the meal I’m going to sautee leeks in a little bacon grease to give it some extra flavor. You’re recipes are always so timely Elise!

  8. dorothy

    looks delish. have a ham piece that’s a little too smokey to eat ‘plain’ so this might be the dish to use it in.

    have to say tho’, that it’s interesting you l listed the ice bath water in the list of ingredients. don’t know that I’ve seen it that way before

  9. Arcey

    This looks lovely. I have some cubed bread (rustic baguette) that I cut a while ago for something that I didn’t end up making. So the cubes are totally dried out and hard. Is it okay to use these in this recipe, or will they remain too hard? If so, do they need to be browned, or can they be used as is? Thanks!

  10. Linda Owens

    Made this strata for Easter Brunch and it was a hit! I did use 2 more eggs than what it called for and that is the only change I made. I let it sit for a couple of hours but the next time I will make it the night before.
    This recipe is great to make ahead and would also be a great Xmas Day, New Year’s Day or whatever the occasion was. It allows you time with the family as it is made ahead so you’re not constantly at the stove while everyone else is socializing!! Thanx Elise … great recipe!

  11. Nathan

    With egg casseroles I have found that if you butter and then flour the pan the casserole will come out of the pan cleanly. I just found at the local Safeway a Flour cooking spray that works great for this.

  12. Sandy

    Yum! Assembled this last night and baked it for dinner tonight. I would describe it as savory baked French toast. The husband and I couldn’t stop eating it and there’s only half a pan left. Thanks for a great, all-purpose, make-ahead breakfast casserole.