Food + Drink

Savory Pancetta, Onion, & Gruyere Strata: A Christmas Brunch

Savory pancetta, onion, gruyere strata.jpg

We knew we could count on Kate of Birch & Pine to create a Christmas brunch perfect for the whole family. And boy, did she deliver. Below you will find recipes for a pancetta, onion, and gruyere strata recipe, a delicious jam, and spiced wassail to top it off. Take a peek and be sure to check out her blog and Instagram!


Hello, I am Kate, a photographer, stylist, and writer living in the Bluegrass State with my wife, young daughter, and two of the cuddliest pets you’ll ever meet. I am the writer and photographer behind the lifestyle journal Birch & Pine, and my wife and I are renovating a vintage Airstream for full-time travel. Within my blog’s space, I am writing about the modern homestead and the many forms that home can take, and how to make whatever space you have beautiful.

In the past years, I’ve been teaching myself to cook and love spending time in my tiny galley kitchen, creating savory, local, and organic meals for my family and friends. I enjoy the documentation of food, and am teaching myself to style and photograph the meals I make. When the creative folks behind Whiskey + Honey reached out and asked me to come up with some recipes for their new, beautiful journal, I didn’t hesitate. I love having the opportunity to learn more about the craft behind cooking, food styling, and photography, and to work with these encouraging people is, well, just a fantastic bonus. 

Savory Pancetta, Onion, & Gruyere Strata: A Christmas Brunch

With Christmas just a few short days away, I thought I would share the breakfast strata I make every year for Christmas morning. After we rouse ourselves (entirely too early, in my opinion), my wife puts on the water to boil for coffee, and I pull the strata, which has been chilling overnight, from the refrigerator. As the oven heats, the strata rests on the counter while we prepare our coffee, and then once the strata is in the oven, we head toward the living room, light a fire in the hearth, and open gifts. Afterward, we dig into the strata. 

The original recipe I began using was from the blog Smitten Kitchen, and was chock full of spinach. However, this year, I decided to change up the recipe a bit and try something of my own, so this is an adapted version of Deb’s recipe. The results were absolutely incredible. The saltiness of the pancetta, the smoky gruyere, the sweetness of the nutmeg, all came together in ways that were better than I could have ever imagined. Pair with my orange and rosemary jam and some homemade spiced wassail or strong black coffee, and you have a Christmas morning breakfast that is simple, uncomplicated, and will allow you a hassle-free morning…and will certainly impress your out of town guests. 

Savory Pancetta, Onion, & Gruyere Strata

Serves 8-10

1 large onion, diced
7 c. sourdough bread, cubed
10 eggs
2 ½ c. gruyere cheese, grated
1 c. parmesan cheese, grated
3 c. heavy cream
3 tbsp. butter
6 ounces pancetta, cubed
½ tsp. nutmeg
¾ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. salt
a few sprigs of fresh thyme

Melt two tablespoons of butter on medium high heat in a cast iron skillet, and add diced onion until fragrant. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and stir to combine. When the onions have softened, remove from heat and reserve in a bowl. Reduce heat to medium and add diced pancetta to skillet, and cook until slightly browned (but not crisp). Whisk eggs, cream, and a sprinkling of pepper together. Create an assembly line of sorts and layer in bread, then grated cheeses, onion, thyme, and pancetta. Repeat one to two times until dish is full. Pour egg and cream mixture over entire dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake, pull dish from the refrigerator and leave on counter while preheating oven to 350 degrees. Once the dish is no longer cold, slide strata into the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes. Let cool for five minutes before enjoying. 

Orange, Tangerine, & Rosemary Jam 

8 c. oranges and tangerines, quartered, peels removed
1 c. freshly squeezed orange juice
½ a lemon, squeezed
2 c. sugar
2 sprigs rosemary, stems removed, finely chopped
Orange zest (to taste)
Sprinkling of sea salt 

Add sugar, oranges, tangerines, orange juice, and lemon juice to a large saucepan, stir to combine, and bring to a boil. Add salt, zest, and rosemary and reduce to a simmer, stirring frequently, for about one hour. Remove from heat and let stand in a mason jar until cool, then refrigerate. Enjoy warm or cold. 

Spiced Wassail 

8 c. apple juice (I use Martinelli’s)
the juice of two freshly squeezed oranges
splash of 100% cranberry juice (no added sugar and not cocktail)
a handful of fresh cranberries
3-4 orange slices
3-4 lemon slices
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tbsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. clove
¼ tsp. ginger 

Bring ingredients to a quick boil, then reduce to a simmer for about an hour. Serve warm with a cinnamon stick as garnish.