RECIPE: Bring bold flavors to breakfast strata

This BBQ Chicken Egg Strata keeps breakfast from tasting boring.
Kellie Hynes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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This BBQ Chicken Egg Strata keeps breakfast from tasting boring. Kellie Hynes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

My middle child is graduating high school, and instead of sniffling over baby photos, I’m fretting over the celebratory brunch menu. The easiest way to feed a rabble of relatives is with a breakfast casserole. An eggy, bread-y strata is filling and inexpensive. But my previous endeavors have been either over- or undercooked, and disappointingly bland.

To fix the texture, I started small. Single-serving ramekins cook more evenly than a larger casserole dish, which solves my dry-edge, but undercooked middle, problem. Ramekins are also infinitely scalable; make as many or as few as you need. If you prefer to use a traditional rectangle baking dish, choose one no larger than 9-by-13 inches, and use a thermometer to determine doneness. Eggs are safe to consume at 160 degrees; I prefer the sturdier, but still moist, texture of a strata cooked to 170 degrees.

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Enjoy deli flavors all day long with a Reuben strata. The sauerkraut and corned beef flavors pair surprisingly well with neutral-tasting eggs. Kellie Hynes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Kellie Hynes

Enjoy deli flavors all day long with a Reuben strata. The sauerkraut and corned beef flavors pair surprisingly well with neutral-tasting eggs. 
Kellie Hynes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Kellie Hynes

caption arrowCaption
Enjoy deli flavors all day long with a Reuben strata. The sauerkraut and corned beef flavors pair surprisingly well with neutral-tasting eggs. Kellie Hynes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Kellie Hynes

Credit: Kellie Hynes

To make several varieties of mini-casseroles, I started with a scalable ratio for ingredients. For one ramekin, mix 1 egg with 1/4 cup milk, and pour it over 1/2 ounce bread cut into tiny cubes. Add 1 to 2 ounces of your favorite strong, savory ingredients for flavor. I made a delicious pizza strata using baguette, diced pepperoni and mozzarella cheese. A Reuben strata made from rye bread, corned beef, and sauerkraut is as satisfying as a deli sandwich. The winning flavor combination in our house is a barbecue chicken strata made with subtly sweet brioche and a generous dollop of barbecue sauce. In a pinch, make it from rotisserie chicken and any bread you have on hand. Just because it’s breakfast, doesn’t mean your eggs have to be boring.

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BBQ Chicken Egg Strata
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • 2 1-ounce slices fresh brioche, diced (see note)
  • 4 ounces grilled chicken breast, diced
  • 2 ounces shredded cheddar-Jack cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons mild barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • Butter insides of 4 8-ounce ramekins.
  • In a large bowl, toss red onion, bread, chicken, cheese, and cilantro, if using, until well combined. Divide mixture among prepared ramekins. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and set aside.
  • In a second bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, barbecue sauce, salt and pepper. Divide egg mixture equally over bread mixture in ramekins. Let rest at room temperature 30 minutes.
  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place baking sheet with ramekins in the oven and bake until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees, 20-25 minutes. Allow stratas to rest 10 minutes, then serve hot. Serves 4.
  • Note: If assembling the day before, use stale or toasted bread instead of fresh brioche. Once bread mixture and egg mixture are added to ramekins, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature before cooking.
  • Note: If you prefer to use a single 9-by-13-inch baking dish, double the recipe and cook, uncovered, 30-35 minutes.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 275 calories (percent of calories from fat, 48), 20 grams protein, 16 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 15 grams total fat (7 grams saturated), 239 milligrams cholesterol, 640 milligrams sodium.
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