Nov 20, 2018

Cheesy Mushroom and Kale Brioche Strata with Pancetta

Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
This hearty cheesy bread pudding and stuffing hybrid can take the place of traditional holiday stuffing or be served as a side for dinner.

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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.

Cheesy Mushroom and Kale Brioche Strata with Pancetta

Why Use Stale Bread?

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.

Cheesy Mushroom and Kale Brioche Strata with Pancetta ingredients mixing bowl

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Mushrooms – I typically use crimini also known as baby Bella mushrooms when I cook. They have a meatier, earthier mushroom flavor compared to white mushrooms. I recommend buying whole mushrooms and slicing them yourself so they are more evenly cut than pre-cut mushrooms. Use a damp paper towel to wipe away dirt before slicing the mushrooms.
  • Kale – I use Tuscan kale in this recipe though curly kale or another hearty green like Swiss chard or mustard greens can be used in its place.
  • Brioche – Brioche is an eggy, rich bread. They’re a bit sweeter than other breads and are great for absorbing the flavorful custard of the strata.
  • Pancetta – Pancetta comes from pork belly and is salted, seasoned, cured and aged for an extended period of time. Pancetta is similar to bacon in flavor though not as smokey. 
  • Gruyère cheese – Gruyère is a hard cheese with a nutty, sweet flavor from Switzerland. The fact that it melts well (due to a high water to oil ratio) mixed with t’s distinct flavor makes it the perfect addition to anything from sandwiches to mac and cheese or fondue. If you can’t find Gruyère, I recommend substituting with another Swiss cheese like Emmental.
Cheesy Mushroom and Kale Brioche Strata with Pancetta stuffing

How to Make Cheesy Mushroom and Kale Brioche Strata with Pancetta

  1. Cook the pancetta. 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.
  2. Cook the mushrooms. 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.
  3. Combine the mixture. 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.
  4. Assemble the strata. Pour the mixture into a 9-inch x 12-inch greased baking dish or 10-inch cast iron skillet and top with the cheese.
  5. Bake the strata. 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.

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe

  • 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.
Cheesy Mushroom and Kale Brioche Strata with Pancetta holiday stuffing

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

Cheesy Mushroom and Kale Brioche Strata with Pancetta

Print Pin
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Serves 9

Ingredients:

  • 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
  • 5 eggs
  • cups whole milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese

Instructions:

  • 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.

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