ONE FOR THE TABLE: Mushroom and Leek Bread Pudding

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By Cathy Pollak for

If you make anything new this fall, make sure it's this. It would also be an amazing addition to the holiday table because it is so dang fantastic. No one is going to be able to keep their fork out of it.

This dish is so good, my 12-year-old requested leftovers for breakfast. Go figure. It's just one of those lingering tastes that leaves you wanting more.

The inspiration came from a recent issue of Food Network Magazine (I love this magazine), but I did change a few things. I used a little more bread, regular butter, bacon instead of pancetta, sage instead of tarragon, white wine instead of sherry and more cheese of course. It was perfect, just perfect.

Cremini mushrooms are also a nice choice for this dish. They are a little firmer than white mushroom, so they hold up better, and they have a fuller flavor.

I placed the hot mushroom mixture on top of the dried bread cubes to cool slightly before tossing with the egg mixture.

Mushroom and Leek Bread Pudding

Recipe inspired by Food Network Magazine.

Serves Serves 8-10.

8 cups bread cubes from a rustic country loaf, 1/2-inch dice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

2 ounces thick-cut bacon, diced

4 cups sliced leeks, white and green parts (about 4-6 leeks)

1 1/2 pounds cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

1/4 cup dry white wine

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup minced fresh-flat leaf parsley

6 large eggs

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 cup chicken stock

8 ounces grated Gruyere cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread the bread cubes on a sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes until dried out and lightly browned. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a large 12-inch skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook for 5 minutes, until it starts to brown. Stir in leeks and cook over medium for 10 minutes, until they are tender. Stir in mushrooms, sage, white wine, 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, and cook for 12 minutes, until most of the liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. Off the heat, stir in the parsley. Pour mixture over bread cubes on baking tray to cool down slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, chicken stock and half of the Gruyere cheese. Add the bread cubes and mushroom mixture, stirring well to combine. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow the bread to absorb the liquid. Stir well and pour into a 3 quart gratin dish (13 x 9 inches.). Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the top is browned and the custard is set. Serve hot.

(Cathy Pollak runs a vineyard and winery in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. She shares her love of food and wine at One for the Table is Amy Ephron's online magazine that specializes in food, politics and love.


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