Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Buffalo Strata

Recently, Katie's been making a recipe for buffalo cauliflower to take to potlucks, and it's pretty good.  If she drives to the potluck (i.e., Jake is in the passenger seat keeping the crock pot from tipping over), about half makes it there.  None ever makes it home.

For the last couple weeks, we've had chicken on our minds.  We put almost 100 lbs in the freezer (details coming soon), and we've been thinking about what we can do to clear out a little space.  (We had to eat all the ice cream that was in there to make room for the chicken.  Now we've got to eat some chicken to make room for more ice cream.  It's a delicious cycle.)

Then, we remembered that we hadn't posted a strata recipe for July yet!  Keen observers will notice three things at this point: 1. a typical strata recipe for us includes at least one type of meat and one type of vegetable, 2. both chicken and cauliflower are excellent when seasoned with a little Essence de Buffalo, and 3. chicken and cauliflower in a buffalo-flavored strata would be awesome!  Ok, let's get to it.

This is what our freezer looks like right now.  Ice cubes, schnitzelbank, chicken breasts, chicken drumsticks, pulled chicken, whole pioneer chickens for roasting, and a few cc's of air.  There's more chicken in the door, and even more chicken in the freezer in the garage.

We started with a bag of pulled chicken, a little over 1 lb.  It came directly out of the freezer, where we used it as a sculpture titled, 'inside of a ziploc bag.'  We put it in a bowl with 4 Tablespoons butter and 0.25 c hot sauce, but in the future, we'll probably just make a big batch of buffalo sauce (we like 50% butter, 50% hot sauce) beforehand and use half a cup of it here.  This whole mix went in the microwave until the butter was melted and the chicken had thawed.

We cut one head of cauliflower up into pieces (it weighed about 2.7 lbs), and added another half cup of buffalo sauce in the form of 4 Tablespoons butter and 0.25 cup hot sauce.  This went in the microwave until the cauliflower was cooked.  After cooking, both the chicken and the cauliflower are buffalo flavored, but it's a little more subtle than we were hoping for.  We could increase the sauce-to-chicken (or cauliflower) ratio, or add extra sauce to the finished product.

We made the layers in a 9" x 13" pan as usual: bread, cauliflower, chicken, cheese.

Then more bread, cauliflower, chicken, and cheese.

And then the egg mixture.  It's normally 3 cups milk, 6 eggs, and a bunch of seasonings.  We replaced half a cup of milk with more buffalo sauce, but the milk dilutes the buffalo flavor quite a bit.  We'll definitely need some more buffalo sauce to pour over the finished product.  The seasonings we added were 0.5 teaspoon each of salt, black pepper, and onion powder, and 1 teaspoon garlic powder.  Beat the mixture well and pour into the pan over the bread-cheese-cauliflower-chicken layers.  Set it in the fridge overnight or for several hours to let the buffaloes get accustomed to their new range.

Bake at 375 °F for 50-60 min, until the middle is pretty solid and the top looks toasty brown.

Cut into pieces, and top with appropriate sauces.  As we mentioned above, the seasonings added to the chicken and cauliflower weren't quite as in-your-face as buffalo sauce is meant to be, so we added some extra buffalo flavoring.  Then the buffaloes were really in our face, so we added some feta cheese sauce (blue cheese sauce would also be good).  Mmmmm.  It's like a stampede in your mouth.

What do you do when you have an abundance of chicken?  What else is good with a buffalo sauce?  Let us know in the comments section below!

The recipe:
10 slices of bread (at least)
1 lb shredded cheese (we used Monterrey jack)

1 lb pulled chicken
1 head cauliflower (2.5-3 lbs)
1.5 cups buffalo sauce
0.5 teaspoon each salt, black pepper, and onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
6 eggs
2.5 cups milk

Cook cauliflower and chicken, season with half a cup of buffalo sauce each.  Layer the bread, meat, cauliflower, and cheese in a 9" x 13" pan, starting with bread and ending with cheese. Beat together remaining buffalo sauce, eggs, milk, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Pour over layers and set in fridge for several hours or overnight. Bake at 375 °F for 50-60 min, until golden brown and delicious-smelling. Serve with additional buffalo sauce and bleu or feta cheese sauce if desired.  Fall into food coma, reflect deeply on the recipe and any improvements that could be made, and post comments on this page.