Leek Bread Pudding

So after eating Thomas Keller’s mussel recipe, I had to try another one.  What a genius in the kitchen!  I made brioche over the weekend and it didn’t rise quite like I had wanted however the taste did not disappoint.  Therefore my less than perfect day old brioche was perfect for bread pudding.  I love bread pudding, especially savory bread pudding.  It’s a dish you can really be creative with if you want based on the flavors that you like.  Although Thomas Keller’s recipe I’m sure was spot on just as is, I did however change things in a couple of small ways.  It was delicious and great as leftovers….you know it’s good when you eat it for three consecutive days later!
Leek Bread Pudding
adapted from Thomas Keller
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch-thick slices leeks (white and light green parts only)   *I only had about 2 cups worth of leeks so I added about half of a sliced onion which I really enjoyed
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 cups 1-inch cubes crustless Brioche (I left the crust on and enjoyed the extra texture)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup shredded Comté or Emmentaler  **definitely add a little extra parmesan on top, you won’t be disappointed

*** I ate this dish as a main course and thus a felt a little less guilty by dicing four pieces of     bacon into the dish and a splash of balsamic vinegar.  The flavors of the two additions really enhanced the dish.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Put the leek rounds in a large bowl of water and swish so that any dirt falls to the bottom of the bowl. Set a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, lift the leeks from the water, drain, and add them to the pan. Season with salt and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. As the leeks begin to soften, lower the heat to medium-low. The leeks will release liquid. Stir in the butter to emulsify, and season with pepper to taste. Cover the pan with a parchment lid (cover with parchment with a whole in the center for the heat to escape slightly), and cook, stirring every 10 minutes, until the leeks are very soft, 30 to 35 minutes. If at any point the butter breaks or looks oily, stir in about a tablespoon of water to re-emulsify the sauce. Remove and discard the parchment lid.

Meanwhile, spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through, until dry and pale gold. Transfer to a large bowl. Leave the oven on.

Add the leeks to the bread and toss well, then add the chives and thyme.

Lightly whisk the eggs in another large bowl. Whisk in the milk, cream, a generous pinch of salt, pepper to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Spread half the leeks and croutons in the pan and sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Scatter the remaining leeks and croutons over and top with another 1/4 cup cheese. Pour in enough of the custard mixture to cover the bread and press gently on the bread so it soaks in the milk. Let soak for about 15 minutes.

Add the remaining custard, allowing some of the soaked cubes of bread to protrude. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup cheese on top and sprinkle with salt.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until the pudding feels set and the top is brown and bubbling.

*Thomas Keller suggested that when serving this dish as a main course, a good accompaniment would be oven roasted tomatoes which I thought was great.  If you feel so inclined, drop plum tomatoes in boiling water for only about a minute and then transfer to an ice bath so you can peel the skin off easily.  Cut the tomatoes in half and put them on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil, thyme sprigs, salt and pepper and bake at 200 for about 5-6hrs.

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