Finding Thyme to Cook

Thyme is of the Essence

Pancetta and Gruyere Breakfast Casserole

Pancetta and Gruyere Breakfast Casserole

I am a sucker for brunch food. . . especially stratas and casseroles.  Those you prepare the night before and in the morning, as soon as you start brewing the coffee, pop it in the oven for an hour, and voila, you are a magician!!!   I used to save these type of recipes for guests, but lately, I halve the recipes and prepare them on a Saturday night so we have a special Sunday breakfast.  Leftovers for lunch the next day is pretty special as well.  I have my favorite strata recipe, but this is certainly running a close second.  Caramelizing the onions gives this casserole a sweetness which is a perfect balance to the pancetta.

  • 1 1/4 cup loosely packed day old challah – cut into 3/4 inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion – thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ pound pancetta – diced
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese – about 4 ounces

Place challah in a greased 8 inch square baking dish.

Dice pancetta and grate cheese.  Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium heat.

Add onions, salt and sugar.

Saute until the onions are caramelized to a medium golden brown – about 15 minutes.

In a heavy saucepan, heat the other tablespoon of oil over medium heat and saute the pancetta

until almost all the fat is rendered and it begins to crisp – about 10 minutes.

Remove to paper towels to drain.

In large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, dry mustard and nutmeg and thyme.

Season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle pancetta over challah. . .

layer with onion. . .

sprinkle grated Gruyere . . .

pour egg mixture evenly all over.

Press down gently so all the bread cubes are soaked.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees and take casserole out of the refrigerator while oven is preheating.

Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes, or until edges are bubbling and the top begins to brown.

Serves 6



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