Breakfast Strata with Dry-Aged Bacon, Gruyere Cheese and Sweet Cherries

Yield: 8 servings.

1 lb. brioche
¾ lb. dry-aged bacon
2¾ cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
5 large eggs
6 egg yolks
2¼ cups whole milk
1 small Vidalia onion
2 cups sweet cherries, drained
4 Tbsp. olive oil
5 sprigs fresh sage
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. crushed  black pepper

Cut bread into 1” cubes; reserve ¼ loaf for bread crumbs. Cut bacon strips into 2-inch pieces and render until slightly crispy; reserve ¼ of bacon for bacon crumbles. In a food processor, combine reserved bread and bacon; pulse until fine.  Reserve for topping. Cut onion into medium dice. Bring an 8” sauté pan to high heat with 4 Tbsp. olive oil. Add onions, one pinch of sea salt and a pinch of pepper. Lower the heat to medium and saute for 15 minutes or until caramelized. Remove sage leaves from stems and fry with butter over medium heat in an 8” saute pan until just crisp.

Grease a half hotel pan with softened butter. Whisk egg yolks and eggs together with milk, caramelized onion, 1¾ cups shredded Gruyere, sweet cherries, fried sage, salt and pepper. In a large bowl, combine bread, bacon and liquid mixture. Pour well-saturated strata mixture into greased half hotel pan, and sprinkle bread and bacon mixture and Gruyere on top. Cook in a preheated 350°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through (should be soft and moist inside, golden on the outside). Allow to cool slightly and serve warm. To serve, cut into eight portions. If desired, garnish with fried sage.

Recipe and photography courtesy of Jones Dairy Farm