By Elisabeth Watkins
Elisabeth Watkins is known as the “Farm Girl Chef” from Linden, Calif. She is the winner of Food Network’s Chopped Junior and a senior in high school in Modesto, Calif. Elisabeth learned to appreciate food growing up on a sixth-generation family farm. Currently, she instructs cooking classes, judges cooking competitions, appears on local television and promotes her passions: agriculture and cooking.
Have you noticed that pork seems to be the breakfast protein of choice in most all recipes? From sausage, to bacon and breakfast chops, pork seems to reign supreme – but not so fast!
Being a cattle rancher and a member of the San Joaquin-Stanislaus CattleWomen, I am always trying to promote beef. I challenged myself to turn my favorite protein into a breakfast dish.
A strata is a fancy word for casserole. It is traditionally made with cubed bread, so I guess you could even call it a savory bread pudding. In my breakfast beef strata, I combine beef stir fry meat, roasted red bell peppers, sautéed onions, fresh goat cheese, and an egg mixture.
I like the bold flavor of fresh goat cheese. However, if you are not a fan, you can always substitute it with fresh mozzarella.
This strata is best prepared a day in advance so it has plenty of time to merry all of the flavors in the refrigerator. If you don’t have over night, make sure to let it sit for at least 2 hours before baking. This will ensure that the bread soaks up all of the egg mixture.
As far as the beef goes, most grocery stores sell “stir-fry” beef. This is usually sirloin that is thinly sliced into perfect bite-sized pieces. If your grocery store doesn’t carry it, you can purchase a hunk of sirloin and slice it yourself. I suggest freezing the meat for 15 minutes which will make cutting thin slices much easier. Remember to use Certified Hereford Beef and a sharp knife too!
I wrote the recipe to make enough strata to fill a 9” by 13” baking dish. If your family isn’t large enough to eat it all, simply cut the recipe in half and use a 8” by 8” baking dish. It will take about 35 minutes to bake completely through.
Now let’s get cooking!
Breakfast Beef Strata
1 pound thinly shaved Certified Hereford Beef strips
2 tablespoons olive oil, separated
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
4 ounces soft goat cheese
3/4 cup roasted red bell peppers
5 cups bread, cut into 1″ cubes
7 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
salt and pepper, to taste
1. In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until it becomes translucent and begins to caramelize. Remove onion to a small bowl.
2. In the same pan, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Quickly brown the beef, seasoning with salt and pepper. Transfer to the bowl with the onions.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, rosemary, and 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper each.
4. Coat a 9”x13” baking dish with oil. Place half of the bread cubes in the base of the dish. Top with onions, beef, and roasted red peppers. Top with the remaining bread cubes. Sprinkle goat cheese crumbles evenly over the bread.
5. Pour the egg mixture on top. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
6. Bake in a 350° oven for 45-60 minutes. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.