Cheesy Waffle Strata with Maple-Black Pepper Bacon
This savory breakfast casserole is an excellent make-ahead dish for your next brunch. In fact, it gets even better as it sits in the fridge overnight! Here we use frozen waffles for convenience and a twist on a traditional strata. The waffles sandwich maple-glazed bacon and cheddar cheese and then are topped with a silky, eggy custard. The waffles absorb the liquid as they sit and then bake up into a pillowy, sweet and savory casserole. While we call for store-bought waffles in this recipe, you can easily sub in your favorite homemade recipe. Just make sure the waffles are toasted and crispy before assembling the dish.
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. On a large rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, arrange the bacon in an even layer (it is ok if they overlap slightly). Brush the bacon with 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup and top with freshly ground black pepper. Bake the bacon until crisp and browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Finely chop 4 strips of bacon, leaving the others whole.
  2. Meanwhile, toast the waffles until crisp and golden brown. If desired, you can toast all of the waffles at once on two rimmed baking sheets in a 400°F oven for 10 minutes, flipping once. Let cool.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk, mustard, 1½ teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.
  4. Grease a deep 9-by-13-inch casserole. Arrange 6 of the waffles in the bottom of the baking dish, trimming to fit, if necessary. Arrange the bacon strips on top of the waffles and then top with 2 cups of the cheese. Pour half of the egg custard over the cheese. Top with the remaining 6 waffles and then pour over the remaining half of the custard. Scatter the remaining 2 cups of cheese over the top and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. Cover the casserole with aluminium foil and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
  5. When you’re ready to bake, remove the strata from the fridge and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Set the strata on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the eggs are set in the center of the strata. If the waffles start to get too brown, cover loosely with foil.
  6. Transfer the strata to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with the chopped bacon and chives. Cut into squares and serve, passing more maple syrup at the table.