Because I don’t like eggs by themselves (scrambled, fried, deviled…they all taste overwhelmingly of farts to me), brunch can be a frustrating meal. If a non-egg option even exists on the menu, which it often doesn’t, it’s either something disgustingly sweet, like powdered sugar with a side of French toast, or gut-bombingly fatty, like biscuits and gravy. (Nothing against biscuits and gravy, mind you—I would probably eat this happily every day, right up until I had to buy a new pair of pants.) This strata is a great solution for people like me: a brunch dish that’s egg-free yet flavorful, inexpensive, and a little easier on the waistline. It’s also great for dinner, or as a side dish at barbecues or potlucks.
This is actually an amalgam of two different recipes adapted and spliced together—one from Faith Durand’s “Not Your Mother’s Casseroles,” and one from James Villas’ “Pig”—one of which actually calls for canned baked beans. Needless to say, I adamantly advise against doing this.
As below, it makes about 4 brunch or side-dish servings, but it’s very easy to scale up.
• 2 Granny Smith apples: 75 cents
• 12 oz. link pork breakfast sausages (Grocery Outlet): $1.69
• 8 oz. dried navy beans (soaking optional): 54 cents
• 4 slices bacon, chopped: 50 cents
• 1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped: 45 cents
• 1/2 onion, chopped: 10 cents
• 2 T molasses: 10 cents
• 2 T cider vinegar: 5 cents
• 1/4 cup real maple syrup (cheating! someone gave us two bottles as a gift a while back): $0
• 2 1/2 T Dijon mustard, divided: 15 cents
• 1 T lemon juice: 10 cents
• 1 tsp worcestershire sauce: 5 cents
• Salt and pepper: 2 cents
TOTAL: $4.50/4 = $1.13/serving
Put the navy beans in a saucepan, cover with water by a couple inches, and bring to a boil. Boil, covered, for about 15 minutes. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 325 F.
In a Dutch oven or heavy oven-safe pot with lid, cook the bacon pieces over medium-low heat until all the fat has rendered and it’s starting to crisp, about 10-15 minutes. Increase heat to medium, add the onion, bell pepper, and a pinch of salt, cook until onion is translucent, about 5-6 minutes.
Add the beans with their liquid, maple syrup, cider vinegar, 1 T of the Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper to taste.
Bring back to a simmer, cover, and put in the oven. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, then uncover and bake until beans are tender, liquid is syrupy and top is browned, about another hour.
Close to when the beans are done, cook the sausages until browned on all sides, drain on a paper towel.
Peel, core, and thinly slice the apple. whisk together the remaining 1 1/2 T Dijon, worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and molasses.
Increase oven heat to 350 F.
Pour half the cooked baked beans in the bottom of a 9×9 casserole dish. Layer half the apple slices over the top.
Drizzle half the molasses sauce over the apples. Spread the other half of the baked beans over the top of the apples, repeat with the other half of the apple slices. Top with the sausages, drizzle with the remaining molasses sauce. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until bubbly and hot.
It may be difficult to serve in nice layers, so just dig in.