Leek and Mushroom Bread Pudding

Leek & Cremini Bread Pudding (sharpened)

There was an end-of-day sale at our local bakery today and mom hauled in a huge bag , and I mean a HUGE bag (16 giant bread rolls), of day-old bread for only $3. After my initial shock and confusion – if you can imagine how shocking it is when your mother hauls in a Santa’s sack full of bread – I decided that with great bread comes great responsibility. Croutons and bread crumbs was definitely a part of the equation, but what else? I did not have fresh basil and tomatoes for a nice Panzanella Salad, I had too much ice cream to make brown bread ice-cream, and my family was not fond of the traditional bread pudding dessert. Whats more, I did not have a plan for dinner yet. Scrounging through the fridge, I found some mushrooms, leeks and bacon, and decided to make a savoury bread pudding for dinner. The result? Clean plates. Not bad for a bread-pudding ambivalent crowd.

Leek and Mushroom Bread Pudding

Serves 4-5 People (Makes a 9x9inch tray)

Ingredients

  • 4 C Day-old bread cubes (About 1.5 inches, preferably from a dense, crusty bread)
  • ½ Tbsp Butter
  • 450g White mushrooms (Thick sliced)
  • 4 – 5 Slices of bacon (chopped, remove ingredient for veggie option)
  • 2 C Leeks sliced (white and pale green parts only)
  • ¼ C Fresh Coriander (Chopped)
  • 2 Tbsp Brandy
  • 2 Tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • ½ C Heavy Cream
  • ¼ C Almond milk or skim milk
  • ½ C Beef Stock
  • ¾ C Grated Cheese (I used half sharp white cheddar & half mozzarella)

The Fun Part:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Place sliced mushrooms in a hot cast iron pan over medium high heat, and dry sautee (ie. no oil) until natural juices evaporates and mushrooms brown (about 8-10minutes). Stir every minute to prevent sticking. Once done, set mushrooms aside in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add chopped bacon into pan to render out fat. Sautee until bacon bits turn golden and crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove bacon bits from pan and drain on a kitchen towel. Pour away excess fat (can be kept for other recipes), reserve half a tablespoon of fat in the pan to cook leeks. *Vegetarian option*: If not cooking with bacon, add half a tablespoon of oil to the pan for cooking the leeks.
  4. Add chopped leeks, coriander and brandy into the pan. (Vegetarian option: If not cooking with bacon, add half a tablespoon of oil to the pan.Once brandy is added, scrape the bottom of the pan to allow any browned bits of bacon to blend in with the leeks. Cook until leeks soften. When leeks are almost done, finish with half a tablespoon of butter. Remove leeks from pan and into the bowl of mushrooms.
  5. Add drained bacon bits and HALF of the grated cheese into the mushroom and leek mixture. Season with salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder. Add eggs, stock, milk and cream into the mixture and mix well. Add bread cubes and mix well, let it sit for about 10 minutes, or when bread is soaked through.
  6. Transfer mixture into a 9x9inch oven-safe baking pan/glassware. Top with remaining cheese, some black pepper, and bake for 15 – 20 minutes.
  7. Optional: When pudding is done, scorch the top of the melted cheese with a kitchen torch.

Notes: Dry sauteing is a simple technique that firms up mushrooms, saturates mushroom’s meaty flavours, and allows that Maillard reaction to add its charm!

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