I don’t think of bread pudding as savory – or at least I didn’t. Then I found this Leek Bread Pudding recipe.
The recipe sounds just like bread pudding: toasted bread (I used challah), eggs, milk, and nutmeg. But instead of sugar and raisins, it’s got leeks and cheese.
What you end up with, though, is closer to dressing. In fact, it’s going on my list of Christmas side dishes for this year, to replace the bread stuffing that never seems to turn out.
I used about half a loaf of the challah I had leftover. The leeks got sliced and caramelized while I cubed and toasted the bread. Then everything got tossed together – the bread, some fresh thyme (I doubled the thyme, and I’d probably throw in some sage as well next time I make it), the caramelized leeks, and the fresh chives.
The NYT recipe called for a 13×9 pan, but I tried Smitten Kitchen’s idea and put it in a large loaf pan. I don’t have any clue how she managed to get it back out of the loaf pan in one piece, because despite using a non-stick loaf pan and butter, the cheese still stuck firmly to the bottom of the pan.
Whatever pan you use, layer in the cheese and the bread mixture, pour in the milk and egg mixture, let it sit for 15 minutes so the bread absorbs the milk, then put it in the oven. The entire house will smell amazing for the hour it takes to bake.
Since mine refused to let go of the pan to be neatly sliced, I just spooned it into a bowl.
I served it with a beer-can chicken:
It’s definitely replacing all my existing stuffing recipes. You could modify the spices to make it fit with pretty much any meal – the thyme and sage would go fine with poultry, but I don’t see why you couldn’t add other traditional stuffing ingredients, like oysters, apples, or sausage.
But I might not tell my Christmas guests that it’s bread pudding. At least not until after it’s all been eaten.