Mushroom and Leek Bread Pudding
- 6 cups bread cubes (1/2-inch-diced), from a rustic country loaf, crusts removed
- 2 tablespoons good olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 ounces pancetta, small diced
- 4 cups sliced leeks, white and light green parts (4 leeks)
- 1 1/2 pounds cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed and 1/4-inch-sliced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
- 1/4 cup medium or dry sherry
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 4 extra-large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese (6 ounces)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread the bread cubes on a sheet pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook for 5 minutes, until starting to brown. Stir in the leeks and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until the leeks are tender. Stir in the mushrooms, tarragon, sherry, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until most of the liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. Off the heat, stir in the parsley.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, chicken stock and 1 cup of the Gruyere. 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 2 1/2- to 3-quart gratin dish (13-by-9-by-2-inches). Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Gruyere and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the top is browned and the custard is set. Serve hot.
I like to make my own breadcrumbs because it's a great time to use day-old bread. And the drier the bread, the better it will soak up the wet ingredients, giving it a better texture.
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