This savory bread pudding is a must try. I adapted the original recipe adding interesting layers of flavor to make it even more decadent. Its beautiful golden crust is tempting and comforting; it can be presented in one baking dish right out of the oven or in delicate individual servings for a fancier setup. It is a delicious idea for your holiday dinner menu and a very nice alternative to the traditional turkey stuffing. This bread pudding has deep and rich flavors: it is a festive combination of pancetta, leeks, a few notes of Brussels sprouts to balance the earthiness of the mushroom and the sweetness of the chestnuts. I have been making this recipe since 2011 and it is always a hit.
Leek Mushroom Chestnut Bread Pudding
Adapted from Foolproof. Ina Garten.
6 cups (½-inch-diced) bread cubes from a rustic country loaf, crusts removed
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
7 oz (200 g) pancetta, small-diced
3 leeks, white and light green parts finely chopped
1 cup fresh Brussels sprouts, quartered
1 pound (500 g) mushrooms, stems trimmed and sliced
1 Tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 cups chestnuts (Steamed Whole Chestnuts / ready to use), roughly chopped
1 cup white wine
1 ½ cup heavy cream
1 cup chicken stock (if not using homemade chicken stock, try using low sodium store-bought chicken stock)
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 ½ cups grated Gruyère cheese
Scale and prep all the ingredients.
You will need a baking sheet, a large frying pan with a lid, a big bowl and a large baking dish (or small individual ones).
Heat the oven to 350F (180C).
Spread the bread cubes on a single layer on the baking sheet and put in the oven until lightly golden. It should take around 15 minutes, but depending of the bread ingredients, it might take a little longer. Check often, you don’t want to burn your bread!!
In a large frying pan, heat the oil and the butter over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the pancetta and cook until it starts to crisp. Add the chopped leeks and Brussels sprouts, cover and let it cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft. Stir in the mushrooms, tarragon, thyme, chestnuts and white wine. Season with salt and pepper and let it simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Adjust the seasoning and set aside.
In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs, cream, chicken stock, parsley and one cup of grated Gruyère until well combined. Add the toasted bread cubes and the leek-mushroom-chestnut mixture to the bowl and gently combining all the ingredients. Set aside and let it rest for 30 minutes at room temperature to give the bread some time to absorb all the liquids. Pour in a large baking dish and cover with the remaining grated Gruyère cheese.
Bake for 50 minutes*. The bread pudding’s custard should be set and the top golden.
*If you are baking this recipe in individual ramequins, it should take a little bit less time for the custard to set. Be attentive.