Minor adjustments

pancetta + leeks

I’ve been tweaking a lot of my favorite standards lately; last Saturday’s mac & cheese, for instance, was made with more bechamel than I have traditionally used, making it extra creamy and luxurious, and I also used a different blend of cheeses, adding a blue and a creamy cheese to the mix. When planning our meals for the week, I decided to reserve the remnants of a Poilane loaf I brought home on Friday and use it for one of our other favorite comfort food dinners – a savory bread pudding – and I decided to play around with my usual recipe.

We had a couple of leeks in the fridge that I wanted to use up, so I chopped those and sautéed them with half a pound of chopped thickly sliced pancetta. That got tossed with my cubed bread, along with a handful of chopped fresh sage. I fiddled with the proportions in my custard, combining six eggs with two cups of whole milk, one cup of heavy cream, a little kosher salt and a couple of tablespoons of Colman’s dry mustard. I added my cheeses to this – about a cup each of grated Parmagiano Reggiano and Mecox Bay Dairy Sigit (a really delicious Alpine-style cheese), then poured the mixture over my bread cubes. After a bit of tossing and squishing, I transferred the mixture to a buttered baking dish, added a bit more grated cheese on top and placed it into the oven, baking it at 375 until it was puffy and browned.

Dinner:  February 12, 2008

Though parts of the bottom got a little over-browned, this was probably my favorite bread pudding yet, rich and creamy in the center, with crisp edges and a crusty, cheesy top. I will probably use this base going forward, but I need to remember to let the pudding rest a bit longer once it comes out of the oven – that added creaminess makes for a molten hot center and steam burns on the roof of the mouth are no fun.

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8 thoughts on “Minor adjustments

  1. isn’t it fun when you know a dish well enough to riff on it?

    One of our favorites from last winter is a savory cornbread bread pudding… I need to dig up that recipe. (Come to think of it, I am pretty sure that I posted about it — LOL!)

  2. Jennifer Hess says:

    Parsnip – It was really good. I just ate the last of it for breakfast!

    Amy – Crispy edges are a very good thing indeed. :)

    Anita – Totally. And I’m going to have to search for that cornbread bread pudding recipe. It sounds amazing!

    Vicki – Um… that’s a good question! I didn’t really measure out the bread, I just took the remainder of our big round loaf and cubed it up. It filled our biggest Pyrex bowl, so I’d guess maybe 5 or 6 cups total?

  3. a new thing to do with leeks – i love it!

    i also love savory bread pudding. my favorite is with a good crusty sourdough boule, chorizo and manchego. If you let the bread soak in the custard for 30-40 minutes before baking it takes the edge of the crustiness of the bread while still leaving you some texture…delish.

    I think I know what I’m making for brunch this weekend.

    Us vs. Food

  4. Now that looks like something I would go for! I like breakfast strata a lot, but I’ve never tried making it in more of a bread pudding format. Your seasonings and vegetables in this version sound wonderful.

    I wish I could get thick pancetta like that, it looks great!

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