I believe I've already enlightened you about my love affair with sweet bread pudding, especially my signature version with chocolate and cherries. But savory bread pudding, that's another thing entirely. Combine stale leftover bread with grated cheese, crumbled bacon, an herb or two, and a custard base of eggs and milk or cream, and you've got - well, you've got heaven in a baking dish. And, to bring the dish up another notch (if that's even possible), today I included the unbelievably delicious caramelized onions I made yesterday, using the method in an article by Russ Parsons in last week's Los Angeles Times.
I'm writing the recipe the way I made it, but you can change the cheese to your taste, mix in leftover cooked vegetables, switch out the herbs. It's completely flexible. It's a great side dish for a dinner party because you can assemble it ahead of time and let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours, or even overnight, before you bake it.
Savory bread pudding with bacon and caramelized onions
- 1/2 loaf leftover challah
- 8 eggs
- 2 cups heavy cream plus 2 cups milk (or 4 cups half-and-half)
- 2 cubes porcini bouillon (available at gourmet stores, or leave it out)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- ground pepper to taste
- 2 cups grated Comte cheese (Gruyere is a good substitute)
- 1/2 cup crumbled cooked bacon
- 3/4 cup caramelized onions (substitute: 2 sauteed onions)
- 1 tsp dried thyme
Tear the challah into bite-sized pieces and spread them out on a cookie sheet. Leave them out for a few hours to make them slightly stale. Alternatively, toast them in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes to dry them out.
Soften the bouillon cubes in 1/4 cup of the milk.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk in the cream and milk. Fold in the bread cubes so they can absorb the liquid. Fold in the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Let the mixture sit in the bowl for an hour, stirring it up every 15 minutes to redistribute the ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Spray a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray and turn the bread mixture into the pan. Bake at 400 degrees for about 50 minutes, until the top is golden and puffy. It will fall after a few minutes out of the oven, but no matter. It will taste just as lofty.