Here’s a dish to mix up when you’ve got half a baguette that’s a day or two past its prime. But don’t wait for that happenstance. This mushroom-studded pudding is far too good to save for a once-in-a-blue-moon moment.
Use high-quality bread, such as a French or Italian loaf, that’s dense and chewy. If the bread has an especially dense crust, cut some of the crust off so the bread has as much soft surface area as possible to soak up the egg custard. You can easily vary the greens and other ingredients — try adding diced, cooked bacon or pancetta (if you eat meat), roasted winter squash, artichoke hearts or tomatoes, olives and zucchini in summer months. Same goes for the cheese — substitute fresh ricotta, cheddar or gruyere for the goat cheese.
For best results assemble and then allow the pudding to sit for half an hour or more so the bread has time to soak up the custard. This makes for a creamier consistency. If the pudding will sit for more than one half hour before baking, place into the fridge.
- 4 cups bread cubes (about 1 inch square)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced (about one cup)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 cups sliced mushrooms, rinsed
- 1/2 bunch chard, rinsed and roughly chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 5 large eggs, beaten
- 1 cup cream
- 1 cup milk
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast bread on a cooking sheet for about 10 minutes.
- Warm one tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 3 minutes until barely soft. Remove from pan into a small bowl. Melt butter in pan with one tablespoon oil. Add mushrooms and cook until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add chard, cooked onions, thyme, pepper and salt to the skillet. Cook until greens are just tender.
- Beat eggs, milk and cream together in a small bowl.
- Butter or oil a ceramic or glass baking dish (approximately 8 x 10 or 9 x 9). Combine bread cubes and mushroom mixture in baking dish. Crumble goat cheese on top and mix in. Pour egg mixture over the bread. Push gently down on cubes with hands to submerge in the custard. Allow the pan to sit for at least one half hour or more (see headnote).
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle Parmesan evenly over the top of the bread cubes. Bake until pudding is golden and just set, about 30 to 40 minutes. If the dish has been in the fridge, the pudding will take closer to the longer time for cooking.