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Provolone And Ham Strata

You can prepare the strata a day ahead, but don't bake it. Cover tightly, refrigerate and bake that morning. Look for the delicious sharp provolone from Pennsylvania Macaroni in the Strip. This is not a typical strata -- it's breadier than most and will look a bit lumpy after baking. But it's delicious, especially made with leftover ham.

18 1/2-inch-thick slices day-old good-quality rustic Italian or sourdough bread, crusts cut off
2 cups milk
6 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup half-and-half
3/4 pound provolone cheese, shredded (about 3 cups)
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
3/4 pound thinly sliced smoked ham (or chopped leftover ham)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 3-quart (13-by-9-by-2-inch) glass baking dish.

Put bread in large, shallow bowl and pour milk over. Let soak 15 minutes, turning once or twice.

In another large bowl, beat eggs. Stir in half-and-half, provolone, Parmesan, parsley and chives.

Arrange 6 bread slices in prepared baking dish (it won't completely cover bottom.) Drape with a third of the ham (or sprinkle chopped ham), then spread with a third of the egg mixture. Repeat layers twice.

Bake, uncovered, until puffed and golden, but slightly soft in center, 50 to 60 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into pieces to serve. Makes 8 to 12 servings, or up to 16 if part of a larger spread

Adapted from "Buongiorno! Breakfast and Brunch, Italian Style" by Norman Kolpas

Monday, November 19, 2001

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