Holidays making you crabby? Assemble this strata, chock full of eggs, cheese, vegetables and you guessed it…lump crab meat for the perfect Christmas morning brunch. Made the day before and popped into the oven an hour before you want to eat, it’s not only celebratory and delicious, it even looks Christmasy with the red pepper and green onion flecks throughout the dish.
Old Bay seasoning and Dijon mustard add zip to the onions, celery and roasted bell pepper filling. I called out for jumbo lump crab meat here as it’s the most luxurious, rich and chunky. Crab comes three ways and it’s always interchangeable in a recipe: 1) Backfin is the least expensive and it’s perfect for crab dips where there’s lots of other ingredients in the dish. 2) Lump is the next in line and is more chunky and great for crab cakes or crab chowder. 3) Jumbo lump crabmeat is perfect for when you want that luxurious chunk of crab to be intact so that you know there’s crab in there. It’s wonderful in this sinfully rich strata and would be terrific in crab soups and chowders as well.
It’s that easy: It’s important that the celery and onions are chopped finely so that they tenderize and blend nicely into the dish. Slice the celery in half lengthwise then cut each half into thin long strips then chop into fine dice. To cut the bread efficiently and prevent mashing it up, use a long-serrated knife to slice down the bread in a back and forth sawing action.
Crab and Roasted Red Pepper Strata with Gruyere cheese
Hands on time: 45 minutes
Start to finish: 2 hours 30 minutes
Serves 6 to 8
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 small onions, finely diced
- 1 large stalk celery, finely diced
- 1 cup chopped roasted red bell pepper, drained
- 4 green onions, both white and green parts, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
- 7 large eggs
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 pinches cayenne pepper
- 6 cups cubed, crust-less bread (about 14 slices of a sliced Italian loaf)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
- 1 lb jumbo lump crabmeat from refrigerated seafood case, drained
- Butter a 2-quart shallow casserole dish and set it aside.
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add the butter, onion and celery to the pan. Sauté for about 3 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the bell pepper, green onion, Old Bay and parsley to the pan and continue to cook for another 2 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Whisk together the eggs, half and half, cream, mustard, salt, a few grinds of pepper and cayenne in a large bowl. Stir in the bread and cheeses and then gently fold in the crab, trying not to break it up too much. You want some good chunks in there.
- Pour the strata mix into the prepared pan, cover with foil and let rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. and bake the strata, covered, for 45 minutes (if kept overnight it may take another 10 minutes to cook). Remove the foil and bake another 20 minutes or until puffed and set. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into squares. Serve hot.
In the glass: It’s the holidays so how about a Mimosa? Pour about 1/4 cup orange juice into Champagne flutes and fill the rest of the way with Champagne, cava or Prosecco.