A make-ahead breakfast strata, with bacon 'n' eggs, plus healthy spinach too!
A friend has me thinking about breakfast. Not the hurry-up breakfasts that mark our every-day work and school lives but instead, the leisurely weekend breakfasts that open with mugs of steaming coffee and linger on around a big table.
The breakfasts that follow early church for the faithful and extra-long runs for the faithful exercisers.
The breakfasts where how many chairs are filled changes as the kids finish to play outside and grandfather excuses himself for an early Sunday afternoon nap.
The breakfasts that can be prepared with little fuss, like with this make-ahead BACON & EGG BREAKFAST BAKE, a sort of bacon ‘n’ eggs for a crowd.
BACON CHUNKS When bacon is on sale, buy a pound or two for “bacon chunks”, small pieces fried slowly, removing the fat but intensifying the flavor.
First, slice the entire slab crosswise in about one-inch pieces with a serrated knife. Cook in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring and separating. As the fat liquefies, spoon it into a covered glass container. When cooked crisp, transfer the bacon onto a double layer of paper towels over a colander. Replace the paper towels and drain again.
From a pound of bacon, expect about 1¼ cups of bacon chunks and ¾ cup of bacon grease. Refrigerate the chunks for a day or two or freeze for another time.
The bacon fat will keep a long time in the fridge (if it turns green or smells bad, it’s time to throw it out!) for frying eggs, greasing casserole dishes, or any time a smoky essence of bacon is called for.
BACON & EGG BREAKFAST BAKE
Baking time: 35 minutes
- 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach
- 5 slices whole-grain bread, crusts removed and discarded
- 4 large eggs
- 1-1/2 cups skim milk
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/2 teaspoon mace
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup bacon chunks, cooked from about 3 slices (see TIPS) – optional
THE NIGHT BEFORE Cook spinach according to directions, drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, lightly butter a ten-inch quiche or pie pan. Tear each bread slice into four or five pieces; arrange in single layer in baking dish, leaving as few open spaces as possible.
Whisk eggs in medium bowl. Add about ½ cup milk, whisk again, then add remaining milk, ketchup, mace, salt and pepper. Whisk well.
Arrange cooked spinach evenly over bread. Carefully pour egg mixture over bread and spinach. (If necessary, use your fingers to press down a bit to avoid disturbing bread and spinach.) Sprinkle with cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
BAKE & SERVE The next morning, bake at 350F/175C for 35 minutes. Spread the top with bacon chunks during last five minutes of baking. Serve immediately.
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