Preheat the oven to 250 F. Cube the bread and place on the baking sheet evenly leaving some space between the pieces for the heat to circulate. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until bread is dried. You do not want the bread to brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Remove the outside casings from 2 Italian sausages. Place in a pan over medium-high heat and cook the sausage until it is no longer pink breaking it into small crumble-like pieces while cooking. Transfer the sausage to a bowl.
Add a 1/2 cup of diced onions and 1 1/2 cups of sliced red pepper and saute until both are softened and the onions are translucent. You shouldn't need to add any oil to the pan because there will be a little fat remaining from the cooked sausage but if you do a tsp or two of olive oil will do.
Add the dried bread cubes, sausage, red peppers, onions as well as 2 cups of shredded Fontina cheese and mix until combined. Then add the mixture to the 9 X 11 greased casserole dish.
In a large bowl add 2 1/2 cups of milk and a dozen eggs. Whisk until well mixed.
Slowly pour the egg and milk mixture over the bread mix inside the 9 X 11 deep-sided casserole dish. Top evenly with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.
Cover the casserole with foil and place it in the fridge overnight. This will give the bread time to soak in the egg mixture. If you are in a hurry letting it rest for a minimum of 1 hour will do.
The next morning or when you are ready and it the casserole has had time to soak up all that eggy goodness bake for 25 minutes covered with the foil still on. Then remove the foil and continue to bake for another 25 minutes or until the centre is set and no longer jiggly and the centre of the casserole reaches a temperature of 160 F. Remove from oven and let rest 5 - 10 minutes before serving.
Storage: After baking any leftovers need to be put back in the fridge within 2 hours. Covered and stored in the fridge a breakfast strata will last for up to 4 days. You can also freeze this recipe once cooked in a tightly sealed container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat in the oven to serve.Substitutions:Provolone, Emmental or Gouda are all great substitutes for Fontina cheese.Italian Sausage can be replaced with any of your other favourite sausages.