Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday I was talking about how to make last minute Easter brunch recipes? How it’s already November, I have no idea but I’m welcoming it with open arms because it’s definitely near the top of my list for favorite months. As we all know November/December are fabulous months for cooking and what can I say, I’m taking full advantage. Picking the perfect menu for Thanksgiving can be challenging, but I’m here to help simplify it for you. This month I’ll be sharing some of my own recipes, and some from my favorite chefs so you can mix and match to make a 5-star Thanksgiving dinner. First on my list is Ina Garten’s Mushroom and Leek Bread Pudding. It’s first on my list for one reason, it’s a MUST on your Thanksgiving table.

This dish would make a great substitute for stuffing/dressing, whatever you want to call it. For me though, I love the traditional variety so I will be serving both dishes. Call me crazy.  Thick chunks of bread soak up the sauce which is filled with heavy cream, Gruyere cheese, mushrooms and other delectable ingredients. When people talk about having a bite of heaven, this is what they’re talking about. You’ve done it again Ina, I even like eating this cold, straight from the dish.

 

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Ingredients:

6 cups (1/2-inch-diced) bread cubes from a rustic country loaf, crusts removed

2 tablespoons good olive oil

1 tablespoons 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), divided

 

Directions:

  1. 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.
  1. 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 11/2 teaspoons pepper and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until most of the liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. Off the heat, stir in the parsley.
  1. 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 x 9 x 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.

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