Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Baked apple, smoked turkey and cheddar strata: a recipe

Foliage, not strata
We've been through this before, but some dishes simply don't photograph well.

Just in case you were wondering why there's a picture of some lovely fall foliage rather than some strata.

I tried, really I did. I even bought a cool new blue plate to add a pop of color. But three shades of beige are just three shades of beige -- albeit on a cool blue plate.

So you get foliage instead: colorful rather than colorless.

However, don't discount the strata itself. I decided to make it last Monday, as a tip o' the hat to Canadian Thanksgiving, and it didn't disappoint. Fall flavors wrapped up in baked custardy goodness: perfect for either dinner or brunch.

I'm happy to report also that it comes from Melissa Pasanen's and Rick Gencarelli's Cooking with Shelburne Farms, so it's a recipe right from my neck of the woods. As regular readers know, I'm lucky enough to have recently moved to Vermont, which is handily helping me fulfill my goals of eating locally daily.

Shelburne Farms is (and I quote) a "nonprofit environmental education center, 1,400-acre working farm, and National Historic Landmark on the shores of Lake Champlain" whose "mission is to cultivate a conservation ethic for a sustainable future." It is located on the original estate of William Seward and Lila Vanderbilt Seward and is a fun, interesting place to visit, especially with children (it is also the place where I got a chance to milk a goat, so I'm a big fan).

I was excited to pick up a copy of the cookbook, which is segmented by season, so, of course, the fall strata drew me in.

More foliage, still no strata (and I need a better camera to capture these colors)

The recipe below is for half the amount of the original recipe; you could easily double mine, bake it in a 9 x 13 casserole and have enough for a big brunch crowd. You could also try substituting ham or sausage for the smoked turkey. At least it would add one more color.

And, just so you believe me, here it is:

Just focus on the lovely plate
Don't hold it against the strata.

Baked Apple, Smoked Turkey and Cheddar Strata (adapted from Melissa Pasanen's and Rick Gencarelli's Cooking with Shelburne Farms)

1/3 - 1/2 lb country-style bread, hard crust removed, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 pound smoked turkey, cubed
2 eggs
2 cups low-fat half-and-half
kosher salt and pepper
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Toast the bread cubes on a baking sheet in the oven for about 10 minutes; set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook shallots until softened (about 3-4 minutes). Add turkey to the pan, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned (about 5 minutes).

In a small bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, salt and pepper (to taste).

To a prepared baking dish, add half the shallot mixture, half the apples and half the cheese; combine to make one layer. Place all the bread on top, then add the remaining shallot mixture and apples. Pour the egg mixture on top and push the bread down into the liquid until all is saturated. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.

Bake for about 45 minutes or until the top is golden and the custard is set. Let stand a few minutes before serving.


  1. My that is a lovely plate! Just kidding! this sounds wonderful!

  2. It really is a lovely plate though, Pam. ;-)

  3. So funny - I have this cookbook, but have never tried this recipe. I will have to try it. Love the leaf picture!

  4. Leslie, another one of my favorites from this book is the Celery Root Soup with Blue Cheese -- it's amazing!

  5. I will have to try the soup - I made the strata last night. Very good. I used an apricot basted roasted chicken instead of turkey, and it turned out great! Thanks! :)

  6. Nice plate. But really--beige food is a staple in our house, so I might just try this. I'm forever looking for ways to use up precooked chicken, and this seems like it would work with lots of different types.

    BTW, I tried giving my green can cheese addict some freshly grated, good quality parm and he gagged. Oy.

  7. Oh dear, I'm sorry. Did you try putting it IN the can, as a fake out?