Friday, May 23, 2008

May 23: Savory Bread Pudding With Parmesan and Mushrooms

Remember Tiffani, that awful egomaniac from the first season of "Top Chef?" One of my favorite moments in TV history was watching Dave tell her to shut up, the "I'm not your bitch, bitch" line. I've never in my life seen anyone who needed to be told that so desperately.

As much as I disliked Tiffani, I loved her food. She made a Krispy-Kream bread pudding during one challenge that just looked fabulous.

I love the textures and flavors of bread pudding, the custardy sweetness. Even more, though, I love a savory bread pudding. It's so unexpected, like Thanksgiving stuffing, but stepped up. It could be a rich, filling side dish, it could be a vegetarian main dish. I can't wait to try this.

Savory Bread Pudding With Parmesan and Mushrooms

1 (1-pound) loaf crusty country-style white bread
1/4 cup olive oil
4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 large garlic clove, minced
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
1 pound assorted fresh mushrooms (such as crimini, button, portobello, and stemmed shiitake), thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced celery
1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
8 large eggs
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Cut bottom crust and short ends off bread and discard. Cut remaining bread with crust into 1-inch cubes (about 10 cups loosely packed). Place cubes in very large bowl. Add oil, thyme, and garlic; toss to coat. Spread cubes out on large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until golden and slightly crunchy, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Return toasted bread cubes to same very large bowl.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, celery, and bell pepper. sauté until soft and juices have evaporated, about 15 minutes. Add sautéed vegetables and parsley to bread cubes.Whisk heavy cream, eggs, salt, and ground pepper in large bowl. Mix custard into bread and vegetables. Transfer stuffing to prepared dish. Sprinkle cheese over.

Cover and refrigerate.Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake stuffing uncovered until set and top is golden, about 1 hour. Let stand 15 minutes.


Annie K. Nodes said...

I tried this but I screwed it up. I didn't use butter! Can you imagine? Bread pudding without butter? Ridiculous. Not that you'll make the same mistake, but I had to warn you nonetheless!

Neen said...

Bread pudding tents to creep me out, but I'll trust you on this...