Good to the Last Slice: Leek-Mushroom Strata

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Photo by Barbara Pheby
Your kitchen will be flooded with the aromas of rich cheese, hearty bread and delicious leeks and mushrooms.

This savory leek-mushroom strata is the perfect side for a prime rib roast or pork loin. The heartiness of the whole-wheat bread adds richness to the bread pudding. This leek-mushroom strata could easily work as a main dish, accompanied by a salad of lightly dressed mixed greens. SERVES 6 TO 8

• 4 cups 1/2-inch cubed day-old whole-wheat country loaf bread
• 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
• 1 cup hot water
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 2 cups sliced crimini (brown) mushrooms
• 2 medium leeks, trimmed, halved and finely chopped
• 1 garlic clove, pressed or minced
• 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
• 1/4 cup white wine
• 6 eggs
• 1 cup whole milk
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
• 1 1/2 cups grated fontina cheese

1. Spread bread cubes evenly on a cookie sheet and place in a 250-degree oven for 20 minutes. Bread should feel dry, but not be allowed to brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

2. Place dried porcini mushrooms in a small bowl and add hot water; place a smaller bowl or coffee mug on top to keep mushrooms submerged. Allow mushrooms to reconstitute and soften for 30 minutes; remove from water and chop. Place a paper towel over the top of a measuring cup and slowly pour reserved mushroom liquid over towel; discard towel and set liquid aside.

3. Add butter to a large skillet and place over medium-high heat. When melted, add crimini mushrooms, leeks, garlic and thyme. Sauté until mushrooms and leeks are cooked, about 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so leeks and garlic don’t burn. Add wine and scrape bottom of pan with utensil to remove any browned bits. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. In a large mixing bowl, add eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Whisk well to incorporate. Add mushroom-leek mixture, cheese, 1/2 cup of reserved mushroom liquid and bread; mix well to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes so that bread soaks up some of the liquid. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

5. Butter a 7-inch by 11-inch or 8-inch square baking dish and add strata mixture. Bake leek-mushroom strata, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Check doneness by inserting a knife in center of dish; the knife should come out clean.

Sophia Markoulakis is a food, home, and garden writer and recipe developer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read more of her work at Sophia Markoulakis.

Click here for the main article, Good to the Last Slice: Leftover Bread Recipes.

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