What do you do when you find yourself with a ton of stale bread? Normally I would have made dressing, but since I’m trying to be a bit more adventurous while my wife is away, I thought that a savory bread pudding sounded like a good idea.
When I started looking around for recipes, I realized that bread puddings are as varied and free-form as most dressings. I found asparagus, bacon, sausage, breakfast and a thousand other versions. This is the perfect dish for the seat of your pants cook, which kind of fits with my style, don’t you think?
The one recipe that caught my eye was for a savory bread pudding with caramelized onions. If there is one ingredient I have no lack of, it’s onions. So the only question was what other ingredients I had handy, and whether or not I wanted to add some type of protein other than eggs.
The end result was surprising if not perfect. This is one recipe I’ll revisit and modify. It’s simple, convenient and a great way to use up items that I constantly have on hand. In short, it’s the perfect compliment of simplicity and lifestyle.
So with no further ado, I present you with my new pet project…
Savory Bread Pudding
- 1 sweet french bread baguette, cut in bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 loaf sweet French bread, cut in bite-sized pieces
- 5 eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup water
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 tsp dried sage
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 cup Italian or Pizza blend shredded cheese
- Salt and ground Sichuan peppercorns, to taste
- Butter and olive oil, for greasing pan and caramelizing onions and peppers.
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium low heat. Cook onions, stirring occasionally until they are a deep chocolate color. (approximately 30 minutes.) Add peppers and cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove vegetables from heat and allow to come to room temperature.
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except bread. Rub all sides of a large baking dish with butter. Add bread to custard mixture and toss to coat. Pour entire mixture into baking dish. Cover with a plate or dish large enough to cover and weight down with bowls or other object heavy enough to keep bread submerged.
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Remove wights from bread and bake uncovered for 35 – 45 minutes, or until custard is set and pudding is fluffy.
Remove from heat, allow to cool 5 minutes and serve.
Share and enjoy!
What I would have done Differently had I thought of it at the time:
While this dish turned out well, it wasn’t stellar. I think it was because the flavors and amounts of savory ingredients just weren’t quite enough to offset the sweetness of the custard, the bread and the onions. next time I’m going to toss in some mushrooms or perhaps a little bit of stock to see if I can get a richer flavor out of the dish.
In the end though, this is territory I want to cover again, and soon. The pudding hit the spot, even on a warm summer day and actually had more flavor at room temperature than it did when hot from the oven, so with a boost in earthiness it should pair well with beef or pork and could compliment both light dishes and heavier winter fare.
Do you have a favorite bread pudding recipe? If so, I’d love to hear it.
Links to other recipes like this:
- Savory Bread Pudding, from The new York Times
- Savory Bread Pudding, from Use More Butter
- Savory Bread Pudding with Caramelized Onions and Compte Cheese, from In Erika’s Kitchen