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Savory Bread Puddings

Two savory bread pudding recipes

Anne de Ravel



The versatility of bread pudding never ceases to amaze me. Sweet or savory, to my mind, they are the ultimate expression of comfort food.I have a particular fondness for savory ones, which are perfect served alongside roasts and long-simmered stews, or shine on their own as a soothing lunch or light supper. Festive, yet unassuming, bread puddings are ideal for the holiday table. And, when cooking in a small galley with minimum cooking equipment, they can easily take the place of two or three side dishes, including stuffing. The following recipes are two seasonal favorites worth considering this time of year.

The delicate, yet assertive flavors of the butternut squash and shiitake mushroom pudding are natural compliments to a roasted turkey or goose, or a simple chicken. The blue cheese and leeks combination has a stronger tang that stands up to a rib roast or game meats. For best results select a creamy blue cheese such as the Italian Gorgonzola or Danish Blue. Both puddings can be prepared one or two days ahead and reheated in a 300 degree oven, covered with aluminum foil, just before serving. Bread puddings in general are the perfect foil for leftover poultry, pork roast, and sausage. These two are no exception -- just slip 1 cup of shredded or diced cooked meat into the mix.

Butternut Squash and Shiitake Bread Pudding

Six servings

3 cups cubed (about ½-inch) butternut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
15 large shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and sliced, about 11/2 cups
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
4 large eggs
3 cups milk
1 cups heavy cream
1cup grated Swiss cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 day-old loaf French bread, cut into 1-inch pieces, about 7 cups

Preheat the oven to 400°. Lightly grease an 8-cup baking dish.

Place the butternut squash on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with one tablespoon of the olive oil, sprinkle with salt to taste, and toss to coat evenly. Spread the squash on an even layer and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender but not soft. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350°.

Heat the remaining oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shiitake mushrooms and onions, and sauté for 5 minutes, or until soft and lightly golden. Stir in the garlic and sage and sauté for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

Meanwhile, combine the Swiss and parmesan cheeses. Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl. Wisk in the milk, cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Fold in 11/2 cups of the cheese mixture. Toss in the bread cubes and stir gently to combine. Let stand 10 minutes.

Toss in the squash and mushroom mixture and spoon into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese mixture and bake for 45 minutes to one hour, until the pudding is set and crusty.

Blue Cheese and Pancetta Bread Pudding

Six servings

6 medium leeks
¾ cup pancetta, about 4 ounces, cut into ¼-inch cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 large eggs
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1¼ cups grated Fontina cheese or Swiss cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 day-old loaf French bread, cut into 1-inch pieces, about 7 cups

Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly grease an 8-cup baking dish.

Trim off the root end of the leeks and cut off the dark green tops. Cut lengthwise within 1 inch of the root end. Thoroughly wash the leeks and dry with paper towels. Cut crosswise into thin slices.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until lightly golden on all sides. Add the leeks to the pan; lower the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until the leeks are wilted and soft. Do not brown. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a mixing bowl. Whisk in the milk, cream, blue cheese and ¾ cup of the Fontina cheese. Stir in the leek and pancetta mixture, and lightly season with salt and pepper. Toss in the bread cubes and stir gently to combine. Let stand 10 minutes.

Spoon the mixture into the baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining Fontina cheese and bake for 45 minutes to one hour, until the pudding is set and crusty.