8 slices of sturdy white bread (supermarket french, italian or sheepherder's)
3 tablespoons of softened unsalted butter plus more to butter bread
3 tablespoons of finely chopped onion or shallots
8 ounces of chopped ham
8 ounces of sliced button mushrooms
1/2 cup of dry white wine
6 ounces of shredded cheese (I love Gruyere, but I used a combination of chedder and Monterey Jack here)
6 large eggs
1 3/4 cups of half-and-half
Salt and pepper
*place the slices of bread on a baking sheet in a single and put in oven on low heat (225 F), bake until dry and crispy. When they are completely cool, lightly spread on one side only with some unsalted butter.
*Melt the butter in a skillet and saute the onions until soft, add the ham, when it's lightly brown, add mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are no longer releasing their liquid. Set aside in a separate bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.
*In the pan that you cooked the onion in, pour the wine and reduce until it is slightly thickened.
*Whisk the eggs and half and half, whisk in the reduced wine, some salt and pepper.
*In a 8 inch shallow baking pan, arrange the strata by layering half of the bread, topping with half of the ham, then half of the cheese, and then again with the bread, ham, and cheese.
*Pour the egg mixture evenly over the layers and wrap it in plastic wrap. Weight down the casserole by placing something heavy on top (I used a bag of sugar) and refrigerate for an hour up to overnight.
*Remove it from the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 325 F and bake uncovered for approximately 50 min to 1 hour. It is ready when it puffs up in the center and the sides come away from the dish. If you notice that it is still jiggly, it probably needs to cook for a few more minutes. Let it cool for 5-10 minutes and then slice and serve
Bake the bread slices
Saute the filling
Set the filling aside
Reduce the wine
Layer with bread, filling, cheese, repeat
Pour custard over all, cover, weight down, and refrigerate
Let it cool, serve and eat