Part Quiche, part Croque Monsieur, Easy Ham & Cheesy Croissant Breakfast Strata is my super easy, cheesy winter make-ahead breakfast or lazy brunch.
What’s a Strada?
A strata is a savoury bread pudding, a way to use up dried-up bread and baguettes. But what if instead of leftover bread, you have leftover croissants? Take the concept and lean French I say! Bubbly, crispy on the outside but custardy on the inside. A little sweet and a little savoury, and SUPER yummy!
I use a quiche mix for the bottom layer which is soaked up by buttery, dried bits of croissants, then a layer of chopped ham, topped with bechamel sauce, a top layer of sliced croissants, slathered in more bechamel – which we then chill for an hour or overnight. Then we top the whole thing with cheese and bake until gooey, golden brown and delicious!
Got Stale Croissants?
It’s a great recipe to use up leftovers like stale four-day-old croissants that you forgot about (dammit!), cooked or cured meats or leftover cooked mushrooms or vegetables like peppers and onions. And you know all those leftover bits of cheese from that fancy cheese platter you did last night? Yup, you can toss that in there too.
Strata Tips Allow the croissants to soak up all that creamy goodness for at least an hour before baking. We find it’s best if you assemble Easy Ham & Cheesy Croissant Breakfast Strata the night before, then sprinkle with cheese and throw into the oven next morning for a lazy holiday or weekend brunch.
Break Out The Buffet Pants
Rich and deeply satisfying, Easy Ham & Cheesy Croissant Breakfast Strata is how I fatten children… and anyone else in range. Remember that Grimm’s fairy-tale, Hansel & Gretel? Did The Witch use Bechamel to fatten the children? Because it works! Helps make your kids with all their sharp edges pleasantly plump and squeezable! (Kids go crazy for this. Even the SUPER picky ones.)
This Easy Ham & Cheesy Croissant Breakfast Strata recipe fridges well after-the-fact and leftovers are equally good.
Also, it would seem I’ve built another recipe for nine (eye roll). So feel free to half this recipe, if you’re feeding fewer. I’m cooking for an army lately. I blame spending time at my mother’s. It’s contagious!
Prepare an 8 x 8 (or 9 x 9) pan with non stick spray or smear liberally with butter. Cut the tips off all of your croissants. Cube the two smallest croissants and arrange all the crispy bits in the bottom of the pan. Reserve the last three croissants, sliced crosswise for later.
Whisk eggs, milk, cream, nutmeg, salt and black pepper together. Pour egg mixture over croissant bits and reserve cold.
For the Bechamel Sauce: – Melt butter in a sturdy pan over medium heat until bubbling. – Add flour to hot butter and whisk or stir to make a pasty roux. Stir over medium heat a couple of minutes to toast flour well. Your roux should smell a little like cookies. – Add cold milk, one cup at a time, whisking constantly until thickened, smooth and creamy. – Remove from heat, season with nutmeg, salt and black pepper to taste. Allow to cool for about ten minutes.
To assemble: Remove egg/croissant mix from fridge, top with chopped ham (cooked sausage, mushrooms or vegetables). Layer about a half cup of Bechamel on top of ham. Top with remaining sliced croissants, arranged neatly. Pour remaining Bechamel sauce over croissants to cover evenly.
Let Easy Ham & Cheesy Croissant Strata mixture stand at room temperature for a minimum of one hour to allow the dried croissants to soak up the liquid. (or cover overnight)
Preheat oven to 350°f (180°C). Top with shredded cheese. Bake strata for 40 – 45 minutes, until bubbling in centre, the top is golden and crisp, and a knife inserted into the centre comes out (mostly) clean. (see note) Garnish with parsley or chives. Serve warm. Buy new pants.
If you like your eggs a little wet, shorten baking time by five to ten minutes.
Cooking in her home kitchen just outside Ottawa, Canada; Cori Horton is a food photographer and recipe blogger. A Cordon Bleu-trained Chef, Cori spent five years as the owner of Nova Scotia's Dragonfly Inn and has been sharing all things delicious - right here - since 2010.