Give Thanks and Eat Bread (Pudding)

Story by Alyssa
Give Thanks and Eat Bread (Pudding)
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In the past, we've enjoyed introducing our followers to new holiday recipes and helping you all think outside the box a bit. Simultaneously there is nothing we love more than searching (and searching...and searching) for the perfect method or recipe that produces our old favorites the way they were always intended to be. In all things balance. I know every family has their traditional dishes that must be present, whether or not those dishes are actually any good out of the context of Thanksgiving is another question. I know many people who insist on a classic canned fruit salad with cool whip or sweet potatoes with marshmallows piled on top that would ordinarily stray from such indulgences, but that's the beauty of tradition, yes? Always knowing a little bit of what you can expect. There is comfort in that. There can  also be a bit of boredom.


It's rich depth of flavor plays off of all the traditional Thanksgiving favorites beautifully...

If your Thanksgiving looks anything like ours, there's often more people in attendance than there are traditional dishes to go around. Don't begrudge this and take the easy way out by bringing a bottle of cider! Consider this your call to arms, golden opportunity, moment to shine! Maybe you're not the cook of the family and no one trusts you with something as important as the mashed potatoes. Don't sweat it. Not having to bring a traditional dish is a blessing in disguise. It frees you up to try something new, pressure free. You've got all the opportunity in the world to wow friends and family and perhaps even create demand for your new dish to become part of the traditional meal in the future.

Give Thanks and Eat Bread (Pudding)

When I first made this mushroom leek bread pudding, I knew it would be something I’d have to incorporate every year on out. It's rich depth of flavor plays off of all the traditional Thanksgiving favorites beautifully, but offers the variety I crave amongst all those familiar foods, and I was so happy I took a chance with it (as was everyone else who gobbled it up). I encourage you to embrace trying something new this year. Sure, go ahead and make your standard stuffing just for security reasons, or to please your great aunt who will surely complain if it's not there, but I can almost guarantee that your friends and family will be just as head over heels for this dish as mine has become. Maybe it's time for a new tradition? Start here.

Mushroom & Leek Bread Pudding

Serves 6

Ingredients

5 cups (1/2 inch-diced) bread cubes from a rustic country loaf, crusts removed
2 tbsp good olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 oz pancetta, small diced
2 cups leeks, white and light green parts only, washed, thinly sliced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 lb cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed and 1/4 inch-sliced
1 tbsp fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
1/4 cup medium or dry sherry
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup minced flat leaf parsley
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese (6 oz), divided

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º fahrenheit. Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil and butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook for 5 minutes, until starting to brown. Stir in the leeks and onion and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until the leeks are tender and onion is translucent. Stir in the mushrooms, tarragon, sherry, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoons pepper and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until most of the liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. Off the heat, stir in the parsley.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, chicken stock and 1 cup of the Gruyere. Add the bread cubes and mushroom mixture, stirring well to combine. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow the bread to absorb the liquid. Stir well and pour into a 2 ½-to-3-quart gratin dish (13 x 9 x 2 inches). Sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup Gruyere and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top is browned and the custard is set. Serve hot.

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof by Ina Garten