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Gaffey Family Strata

Photo by Will Gaffey

The Gaffey family strata recipe is a cherished culinary tradition that graces our table every Christmas day, transforming the holiday into a symphony of flavors and memories. The delectable creation, carefully passed down through generations, combines the comforting richness of ham, the creamy allure of Swiss cheese and the vibrant freshness of asparagus into a harmonious medley of flavor and texture.

The layers of succulent ham, thinly sliced and masterfully arranged, create a foundation of savory indulgence. Nestled between these layers are pockets of velvety Swiss cheese, adding a luxurious touch to each bite. The verdant asparagus blanched to perfection, add a crisp and slightly sweet crunch, elevating the strata to a level of culinary excellence.

As the Gaffey family strata adorn our dining table, the aroma of baked ham and melted cheese wafts through the air. The golden-brown crust, achieved through the baking process, promises a symphony of textures with every forkful. The sight alone is enough to make mouths water, setting the stage for an incredible feast.

Beyond its culinary appeal, this dish holds a special place in my family’s hearts. Christmas wouldn’t be the same without the Gaffey strata. It symbolizes more than just a meal; it embodies the spirit of togetherness, tradition and the joy of sharing a momentous occasion with loved ones. It serves as a legacy, a flavorful link to my great-grandparents who first crafted this culinary masterwork, forming a tradition that has stood the test of time and continues to weave itself into the tapestry of our family’s history.

Each year, as we gather around the table, the anticipation of savoring this beloved strata brings warmth and nostalgia to our holiday celebrations, creating memories as timeless as the recipe itself.



  • 5 cups of cubed French bread (with crust)
  • 2 cups of grated Swiss or Gruyere
  • 10 large eggs
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup blanched asparagus pieces
  • 1 cup cubed ham
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion



To caramelize the onions:

  1. Melt unsalted butter with olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat
  2. Thinly slice onion
  3. Add onion and turn down heat to medium-low. Sauté slowly for 20 minutes, until the onion caramelizes a bit

To make strata:

  1. Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish
  2. Put the bread cubes in the dish and sprinkle them with the cheese
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, mustard and salt
  4. Pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes
  5. Sprinkle the asparagus, ham and caramelized onion over the egg mixture and fold them in gently
  6. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours
  7. Heat the oven to 350 F
  8. Uncover the baking dish and bake for 60 minutes, until the mixture has puffed up slightly and is golden brown on top, and the strata doesn’t shimmy with uncooked custard when you shake the pan
  9. Let cool for five minutes before serving

Note : Tent the dish with foil if the top is browning too quickly

About the Contributor
Will Gaffey
Will Gaffey, Design editor
What are your favorite TV shows/movies? His Dark Materials, Game of Thrones, Dead Poets Society, and Puss and Boots 2 Who are your favorite music artists? Sublime, Third Eye Blind, Kendrick, and Cage The Elephant What causes are you passionate about? I am extremely passionate about all things related to the environment