Monte Cristo Strata
1 loaf (20 oz) country white bread, crusts removed and thinly sliced
1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
14 oz sliced Black Forest ham
3 1/2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese (14 oz)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons ground pepper
Heat oven to 375ºF. Generously grease bottom and sides of 13x9-inch (3-quart) baking dish with shortening or cooking spray.
Place layer of bread slices in bottom of baking dish. Brush with 2 tablespoons of the mustard. Top with half of the ham slices, then sprinkle with 1 cup of the shredded cheese and 1 tablespoon of the sage. Repeat layers, reserving last 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese.
In large bowl, beat eggs with whisk, then add milk and ground pepper; beat to combine. Carefully and evenly pour egg mixture over layers in baking dish, making sure bread absorbs most of the liquid. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and 1 tablespoon fresh sage.
Cover dish with sheet of greased foil. Let stand 30 minutes before baking.
Bake about 35 minutes or until dish is baked through and bubbly. Remove foil, and bake 10 minutes longer or until cheese on top is lightly golden.
Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Comments: You can prepare this dish ahead of time, then cover and let it chill in the fridge overnight before baking.