Once you’ve eaten the ears off the chocolate bunny, celebrate Easter brunch with a savory ham strata. This rich egg custard is studded with cubes of ham to incorporate the holiday’s traditional protein but doesn’t break the bank or involve repetitive glazing. Plus, you can make it the night before and pop it in the oven an hour before serving your family and friends, which leaves you with more time to seek out those pastel eggs at the annual hunt.
Easter Ham Strata
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
6 cups cubed crusty Italian bread (1 inch cubes)
1 pound ham steak, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 large leek (white and light green part only), minced
6 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
1½ cups whole milk
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Place the bread cubes on a large sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden brown and crisp; transfer to the prepared baking dish.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the cubed ham and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently until the ham is browned; spread the ham evenly over the bread cubes. Add the minced leek to the saute pan and set it over low heat; sweat for 5 minutes then sprinkle it over the ham and bread.
In a large bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, heavy cream, milk, minced chives, mustard, minced thyme, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Pour the egg custard mixture over the ham, leek, and bread and allow the bread to absorb the custard for at least 30 minutes at room temperature or in a refrigerator for up to 12 hours.
Bake the casserole for 40 to 45 minutes (10 minutes longer if the casserole is cold), or until the custard is puffed and the center is just set. Serve warm with a refreshing salad and fruit for a satisfying Easter meal.