What could be better than bread pudding on a blustry day? Savory bread pudding that packs a ton of vegetables into it! And bread pudding is super forgiving regarding it’s mix-ins. Don’t have Gruyere or Swiss? Use cheddar! Don’t have leeks? Use caramelized onions! Stick in some roasted butternut, sautéed cabbage, a handful of parsley. Bread pudding just does not care what you give it, it will always give you something delicious in return. This particular formula is from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home, by way of Smitten Kitchen, and then further adapted by yours truly.
Notes: This is greatly improved if you serve it by the slice with a poached egg on top. Trust me.
1 cup leeks in 1/2-inch thick slices, white and light green parts only, cleaned and rinsed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
6 cups 1-inch-cubed bread (any kind really)
2 teaspoons finely chopped chives
1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or oregano, or marjoram)
3 cups whole milk, heavy cream or half-and-half or a combination thereof
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere or Swiss Cheese
Drain excess water from leeks, and add to a large hot pan. Season with salt, and sauté until leeks begin to soften, about 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in butter. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are very soft, about 20 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Prep a loaf tin (or 8 x 8 pyrex pan) with butter and parchment if you have it handy.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While leeks are cooking, in a large bowl lightly whisk the eggs, then whisk in milk or cream, a generous pinch of salt, pepper. Add bread and stir to coat thoroughly. Let sit for 20 minutes. Add leeks (or whatever vegetable you are using), herbs, cheese, or other mix ins you are adding to your recipe and stir to combine.
Add bread mixture to prepared pan. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until pudding is set and top is brown and bubbling, about 55 to 65 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature. Great with aforementioned poached egg, and alongside a salad of winter lettuces.