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Leek bread pudding

Posted by Jeanne on May 3, 2010

I really like bread pudding, but I have to admit I’ve never tried a savory bread pudding before.  Sure, I’ve had about a million “breakfast casseroles” that are bread-based – I am Midwestern, see me eat casserole – but I don’t think those really get the custardy goodness that is a bread pudding.

Until now.  I blame Smitten Kitchen for posting this recipe.

Leek Bread Pudding, adapted from post at Smitten Kitchen.

Makes one loaf.  Serves 6 as a side dish.

1 cup leeks in 1/4-inch thick slices, white and light green parts only, cleaned and rinsed

Kosher salt

2 TB (1 ounce) unsalted butter, plus additional for preparing pan

Freshly ground black pepper

6 cups 1-inch-cubed French bread (the original recipe calls for crustless – I left the crust on because I couldn’t think of anything to do with it, and also because I like the textural contrast you get when you include both)

2 tsp finely chopped chives (I used 1 tsp. dried because lo, it appears the chives have yet to sprout in our garden.)

0.5 tsp fresh thyme

2 duck eggs (so help me, I cannot stop buying duck eggs)

0.5 C half and half

2.5 C milk (I used 1% – the original calls for 3 C heavy cream, half and half, or whole milk.  I just couldn’t do it.)

Freshly grated nutmeg

0.5 C shredded gruyere

Place a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, drain excess water from leeks, and add to 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.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While leeks are cooking, spread bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake until dry and pale gold, about 15 to 20 minutes (my already-stale brioche took less time to brown), turning pan about halfway through. Transfer to a large bowl, leaving the oven on.

Add leeks, chives and thyme to the bowl of bread; toss well. In another large bowl, lightly whisk the egg and egg yolks, then whisk in milk or cream, a generous pinch of salt, pepper to taste and a pinch of nutmeg.

Note:  The original recipe calls for 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk.  I wanted to use the duck eggs because they have proportionally so much more yolk to white.  Also because I am obsessed with duck eggs.  I think it screwed up my proportions a bit though – mine is not as dense-looking as the one in the SK photos.

Sprinkle 2 TB shredded cheese in bottom of a buttered loaf pan. Spread half the bread mixture in pan, and sprinkle with another 2 TB cheese.

Spread remaining bread mixture in pan, and sprinkle with the last of the  cheese. Pour in enough milk mixture to cover bread, and gently press on bread so milk soaks in. Let rest 15 minutes.

Add remaining milk mixture, leaving some bread uncovered, and sprinkle with salt. Bake until pudding is set and top is brown and bubbling, about an hour.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Beautiful leeky-bready-eggy goodness.  I forsee many different vegetable bread puddings in our future this summer.

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