Savory Bread Pudding

Bread pudding is a cheater’s stuffing – no bird required! The consistency is slightly mushy and semi-solid. An old-fashioned dessert, it is a comforting way to use up your bread. Any type of bread can be used and makes a neutral base to soak up the flavorful custard.

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6 cups 1/2” bread cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 slices bacon
2 leeks, sliced
2 cups cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 tablespoon dried tarragon
1/4 cup cognac
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups 35% cream
1 cup chicken stock
2 1/2 cups Gruyère cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the bread cubes on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes to lightly toast. Once cooled, place in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

In a large pan, fry the bacon until crisp and set aside. Remove the bacon from the saute pan and place on a paper towel lined plate to absorb the excess oil. In the bacon fat, add the leeks and onions along with the additional oil and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until tender. Add the tarragon, sage, salt, pepper, and cognac and cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Most of the liquor should have evaporated. Crumble the bacon pieces and toss into the leek mixture.

Whisk together the eggs, cream and chicken stock. Add 1 1/2 cups of the Gruyère cheese to the cream mixture. Add the mushroom mixture and the cream mixture to the bread and mix together well. Place the mixture into a baking dish and allow it to rest for 30 to 45 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake for 45 minutes. Serve hot.

Serves 8 to 10.

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