leek bread pudding

serving of pudding

what is the difference between savory bread pudding and stuffing?

this is not a trick question.  or maybe it is a trick question?

to start with, savory bread pudding is a delightful treat you make in the middle of a regular old week (not thanksgiving) and serve it to some of your BFFs rather than 40 odd relatives.

plus, you don't stuff it in a bird.  which i think is kind of gross. 

don't get me wrong.  i love stuffing.  thanksgiving isn't thanksgiving without stuffing made from grandma renee's amazing tauzin family recipe.  but i make it in a casserole dish the way FDA inspectors, harold mcgee, and god (in that order) intended.

i'm not going to compare this bread pudding with that stuffing though.  bird of a different feather.  both tasty, neither really need a recipe.  stuffing is more crumbly and scoopable, but this bread pudding is more of a sliceable-custard-based dish.  and i think the brioche and the leeks make it a little more fancy pants.

check out those leeks!  fancy!

leeks

more importantly, check out the new saute pan!  i've made the leap, friends, from nonstick to, well, very sticky.  it resulted in this:

not nonstick

and it resulted in me scrubbing at it for quite a bit of time.  did i not add enough butter?  i'm pretty sure that can't be it. should i have "deglazed" the pan with water?  the learning curve of adult cookware.  sigh.

anyway, i'm getting ahead of myself.

the leeks get a cute little parchment hat while they're gumming up my shiny new pan.  this recipe is from our friend thomas keller and he just has this thing for parchment hats. 

i mean, parchment lids. 

that's what grown-ups would call them.

crispy, golden brown brioche croutons give this bread pudding some serious body. 

bread crumbs

the croutons, plus a nice sprinkling of parmesan cheese give this bread pudding a nice crunchy bite on the top and a lovely chewy border – like the crusty corners that make everything from brownies to kugels to baked pastas so yumtastic. 

top of pudding

this is a seriously satisfying dish.  light, but rich, good warm out of the oven or room temperature.  i served it with pork tenderloin (you're SHOCKED) and asparagus (sorry michael pollan), but i think it would have been really lovely just with a green salad, dressed with something light and lemony.

Leek Bread Pudding

Lightly Adapted from Ad Hoc at Home and Smitten Kitchen

I'll be honest, I didn't really measure anything for this recipe.  So I give you approximations as being exact isn't super important here.

  • 2 cups leeks, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 4 tbsp butter, cut in four pieces
  • 4-6 cups challah or brioche bread, cut into 1/2 inch squares
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Nutmeg, salt, pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
  • 3/4 cup (or more!  live large!) grated parmesan or other tangy cheese

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Make your parchment paper hat.  Cut a round of parchment paper the size of your saute pan, then fold it up like you're making a paper snowflake and cut a little hole in the center to let out the steam.  Or, you know, decide that Thomas Keller is too precious for you and skip it.

Warm up your saute pan, and add the leeks.  Saute until they start to soften and throw off some liquid, stirring, for about 5 minutes.  Then add the butter and top with your parchment lid and let it melt down over mediumish heat for about 20 minutes, stirring a few times.

Toast your bread cubes in the oven for about 20 minutes, stirring midway so the croutons get more or less evenly toasted. 

Combine the leeks and the croutons.

In another bowl, combine the eggs, milk, herbs, nutmeg and salt and pepper. 

Grease your pan.  Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of cheese on the bottom.  Add about half of the leeks and croutons, then a layer of 1/4 cup of cheese, then the rest of the croutons, then the rest of the cheese. 

Here, Thomas Keller recommends adding about 2 cups of the milk mixture, pressing the croutons to get them good and soaked, and letting it rest for 20 minutes before adding the remainder of the milk mixture and then baking for about an hour or until firm.

I skipped this because it was getting late and I was hungry and had promised to feed people on a school night and thought that they would appreciate dinner slightly before midnight.  It turned out ok.  The top layer of croutons were probably a little drier than they otherwise would have been.  So, if you have the patience and the time, soak your croutons.

Enjoy!

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