Jeff Miller President and Founder Cutting Edge Innovation NTF Advisory Board Member
As we all look for convenient and satisfying options that fit into our busy schedules, breakfast on-the-go is an extremely popular category. In my experience, one of the most successful breakfast product launches featured turkey. When I worked for a large national restaurant chain known for their breakfast offerings, my team wanted to offer a healthier breakfast protein, and we knew that taste was paramount. In order for a better-for-you product to attract repeat customers, there couldn’t be a trade-off in taste from the reference product, in this case classic pork breakfast sausage. We chose turkey sausage, as sausage tends to be the most popular breakfast protein. Plus, we thought it would appeal to a broad audience, so we set out to create a great tasting product that we knew customers would love.
After successfully testing the product, we launched a turkey sausage breakfast sandwich. The response was better than expected, mainly because it captured interest in more ways than we could have imagined. We knew we had a great tasting product that offered a better-for-you alternative and people who did not traditionally add meat to their breakfast sandwich now had an option. Additionally, customers who ate breakfast sandwiches a few times a week now had a reason to eat them more often and feel better about their choice – without sacrificing flavor. Lastly, those who avoided pork but wanted a breakfast meat option now had one.
I’ve found this appeal for turkey even in my personal experience. I love using turkey as a breakfast and brunch option, as it’s always a crowd-pleaser. Well, this Breakfast Strata is one of my favorites, and a stress-free breakfast options for your house guests. You can assemble it the night before, vary the ingredients, and the first one awake can put it in the oven. That way, by the time everyone is up, breakfast is served. It’s hearty enough on its own, but feel free to add sides of berries, yogurt and granola as a way to round out your meal. It can also be adapted to mini casseroles for restaurant service.
The basic recipe is below, but feel free to vary the ingredients to your liking. I’m a big fan of gruyere cheese, onions and turkey sausage. Enjoy!
1/2 loaf (1/2lb.) Sliced Day old Bread (wheat loaf works great – tear open the package and leave on counter a couple days before to help bread stale out.
½ lb Breakfast turkey sausage
½ lb. Monterey jack cheese, shredded
½ bag Baby spinach
½ lb. Mushrooms
1 large Ripe Tomatoes, Chopped and strained
Strata Egg Base
6 Whole Eggs
2 cups Light Cream or half and half
1 tsp Worcestershire
1 tsp Dry mustard
½ tsp Hot sauce
Salt and Pepper
- Make Strata one day in advance.
- Over medium high heat sauté turkey sausage in olive oil until browned and cooked through. Remove and reserve turkey sausage and add mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes, then add the spinach and finish cooking. Let all ingredients cool.
- Break apart day old bread into 1-2 inch pieces and mix together with tomatoes, turkey sausage, spinach, mushrooms and shredded cheese in a large bowl.
- Spray a large glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer strata filling to the dish and distribute evenly. Cover and refrigerate.
- Combine ingredients for egg filling, whisk thoroughly and refrigerate.
- You can do the above steps 2 days ahead, or the night before you will serve the strata
- The night before you are going to bake the strata, pour the egg mixture evenly over all of the filling, cover and keep refrigerated until morning
- Whoever is up first should remove the strata from the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 350, and bake the strata for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the strata has puffed up with gooey melty cheese and crispy brown spots on top.
- Let cool for 15 minutes and serve!