I love food. I especially love rich, creamy comfort food. Two of my favorite restaurants (Big Bottom Market and Barley and Hops) have recently served up versions of savory bread pudding. They were delicious, addicting, and sadly, specials that quickly rotated off the menu. Instead of suffering from withdrawals, I decided to try my hand at baking my own.
I started by referencing a recipe for a classic dessert bread pudding and modified it to be baked with veggies instead of fruit, and herbs instead of sugar. I also reduced the amount of dairy and was happily surprised to find that it didn’t take away from the texture one bit. Oh, and because I am a little crazy, I put a twist on the Brussels sprouts – I peeled the leaves off, instead of leaving them whole. The result is a dish that melts in your mouth.
For a PDF of this tutorial, visit the recipe page on Make: Projects.
1 loaf of stale bread
Thyme, to taste
2 cups milk
1 cup cream
3 tbsp butter
Pans for sautéing
Deep baking dish for baking
Shallow baking dish for the water bath
Step 1: Cut the crusts off the stale bread and cut the bread into bite-sized cubes.
Step 2: Throw the bread into a large bowl, then add the milk and cream.
Step 3: In a small bowl, whisk together 3 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks. Add them to the bread and milk mixture, then set it aside to soak. If you have the time, let the bread soak for at least 1 hour.
Step 4: Chop and then clean the leeks. Cut them lengthwise, then cut the halves into slices. Leeks tend to have hidden pockets of mud, so be sure to clean them thoroughly. Once they are clean, “melt” them in a pan with 2 tablespoons of butter – meaning let them simmer for 15 to 20 minutes with the butter and stir them every so often.
Step 5: Slice the mushrooms and add them to the leeks. Cook them down for at least 5 minutes. Once the leeks and mushrooms are cooked, remove them from the heat and let them cool down considerably.
Step 6: Peel the leaves from the Brussels sprouts and then fry them in a tablespoon of butter. Get the pan as hot as you can without smoking the butter, then toss in the leaves and stir them until they are nice and dark and crispy. When finished, remove them from the heat so they can cool down.
Step 7: Season the bread and milk mixture. Add 3 pinches of black pepper, 2 pinches of sea salt, and as much thyme as you like.
Step 8: Grate the Gruyere into the bread mixture.
Step 9: Add the cooled leeks, mushrooms, and Brussels to the bread, milk, and cheese mixture. Stir them together well.
Step 10: Prepare the water bath by setting the deep baking dish into the shallow baking dish and filling the shallow dish with water. Fill the deep baking dish with the bread pudding and bake it in the oven for 50 minutes at 375 degrees.
Step 11: You will know the pudding is ready when the center is springy and the top is golden brown. Serve it with some sprigs of parsley, a dollop of mustard, and an ice cold beer.