This dish is family tradition. My mother used to make it on Christmas morning and for other special occasions. This strata is a great option for a large family breakfast or if you having guests over for brunch. I was a very picky eater growing up, but I always loved this dish when my mom made it.
This recipe might seem like a lot of work, but this is actually very easy to prepare. Essentially, cheese and ham is layered between white bread then covered in a egg and milk mixture, topped with corn flakes then all baked together. You could even add more than just ham to the cheese layer. Mushrooms, peppers, onions would all work too. I know of people who have given it a Mexican flair and added taco seasoning and spicy peppers. You can really adapt this to your family's tastes.
It is made ahead the night before so your prep in the morning is minimal, leaving time to socialize with guests or work on other dishes. This recipe makes a lot, so if the crowd you are serving isn't huge be prepared for leftovers. It does reheat in the microwave well, but it tastes best served 30 minutes after being removed from the oven.
16 slices white bread, crust removed
1 teaspoon dry mustard
4 cups milk
1 lb ham, diced
16 oz shredded monterey jack cheese
16 oz shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups cornflakes
Butter (about three tablespoons)
Butter bottom of eight pieces of bread. Lay the slices buttered side down in bottom of pan. Sprinkle ham and the cheese over the bread. Butter remaining slices of bread, and lay buttered side down on top of cheese layer. Whisk together eggs, milk and mustard . Pour over everything in the pan. Wrap in foil and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning: Preheat over to 350 degrees. Saute cornflakes in butter til light brown put on top of bread. Cook uncovered one hour. Let set 30 minutes before serving. (I will cover it loosely with foil to retain the heat).