Mushroom Bread Pudding
Wonderful served as a brunch centerpiece or as a holiday side, this rich meatless casserole can be assembled in advance, refrigerated overnight, then baked just before serving. You could certainly prepare it day-of and let the bread soak for 15 minutes before baking, but allowing it to sit overnight will make it more tender. Delicate brioche is the ideal bread for this pudding, and it is available in most supermarkets, often in the form of hamburger rolls, which are a good size and shape for this dish. Challah is also a good option, but it’s a bit denser, so it may take more than 15 minutes for it to soak up the custard.
- Serves: 6 persons
- 1ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- 1tablespoon olive oil
- 2tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
- ½pound mixed fresh mushrooms, such as cremini or shiitake, trimmed and sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 8fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish, if desired
- 2small shallots, halved and thinly sliced
- 2tablespoons cognac (optional)
- 2teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
- Black pepper
- 3large leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced and well washed
- 6large eggs
- 1 ½cups heavy cream
- 1 ½cups whole milk
- ¼teaspoon ground cayenne
- 2ounces grated Gruyère (about 1 cup)
- 12ounces brioche (or 4 to 6 large brioche buns), cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
- 1ounce finely grated Parmesan (about 1/2 cup)
Step 1Boil 1 cup of water in a small saucepan. Add the dried porcini mushrooms and soak until softened, about 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mushrooms to a cutting board and finely chop; set aside. Carefully pour remaining mushroom liquid into a large bowl, leaving any grit behind.
Step 2In a large (12-inch) skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter over high. Add fresh mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 8 minutes. Lower heat to medium. Add sage, shallots and chopped porcini, and cook, stirring, until shallot is translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add cognac, if using, season to taste with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Transfer to a plate.
Step 3In the same pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and a big pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until wilted, 5 to 7 minutes. Return the mushroom mixture to the pan and stir to combine with the leeks. Remove from heat.
Step 4Add eggs to the large bowl with the mushroom liquid, and whisk to blend. Add cream, milk, cayenne, 1½ teaspoons salt and plenty of black pepper. Whisk thoroughly to combine, then add the Gruyère.
Step 5Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with butter, then add about 1/4 of the fresh mushroom mixture and arrange in an even layer. Arrange the bread slices on top in an overlapping pattern. Sprinkle the remaining mushroom mixture over top, tucking it in between the bread slices. Ladle the custard mixture over top, evenly distributing the cheese. Refrigerate, covered, overnight (see Tip).
Step 6When ready to cook, remove the dish from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Top the pudding with Parmesan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until set in the center (it may puff a bit). Run it under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes to brown the top, watching carefully. Let sit 10 minutes, then serve warm, topped with additional sage if desired.