Wild Mushroom and Spinach Savory Bread Pudding
I feel like Christmas day should be easy-breezy. We wake up at a ridiculous hour thanks to the kids (but let’s be honest, I’m too excited to sleep, too), open presents, play, relax, and have fun. I don’t want to be standing in the kitchen flipping pancakes while everyone else plays with their new toys. But I also want a nice meal. This is where bread pudding comes in. You make it the night before, let it soak over night in the fridge, and bake it in the morning while everyone opens presents and the smell gets our tummies ready to eat at a normal breakfast time.
This meal is loaded with veggies, which I think we all need more of first thing in the morning, and with the eggs and bread, it’ll give you enough heft to keep the hangries away until you’re ready to peel your eyes away from the exciting new gifts.
I went with chanterelle and shiitake mushrooms, but you can adjust with any variety of mushrooms that you can find. And alter the greens to your liking as well. The smoked Gouda, though, is SO worth seeking out if you can find it. It gives the dish this amazing nutty, sweet, smoky, kind of meaty flavor and it just perfect.
By the way, did you know that stale bread isn’t the same as dry bread? Without going into too much scientific detail, I’ll just say that stale bread is when the starch molecules change and recrystallize. Bread can go stale in a humid environment just as well as a dry environment. So to prepare your bread for bread pudding, it’s best to dry the cubes in the oven rather than leaving it out go stale. You can use day old bread, just make sure you still toast it. And get a good, crusty bread. Or better yet, make an extra loaf next time you’re baking rustic sourdough bread.
- 1 large loaf crusty of bread
- 1 lb wild mushrooms (I used about 3/4 lb chanterelle and 1/4 lb shiitake), stems removed, cleaned and sliced medium
- 1 lb fresh baby spinach
- 6 oz smoked Gouda, grated
- 9 eggs
- 2 cups whole milk, preferably grass-fed
- 1 cup heavy cream, preferably grass-fed
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing the pan
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the bread into 2 inch cubes, spread evenly on a baking sheet, and bake in the oven until very dry and slightly crisp, 10~15 minutes. Let cool completely.
- Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium and melt about 1 teaspoon of butter and turn the skillet to coat the surface completely. Take about 1/3 of the mushrooms and place in one even layer over the skillet without overlapping and season lightly with salt. Cook without stirring until browned on one side, flip over and repeat. Remove from skillet and repeat with remaining mushrooms in batches until all are cooked.
- Melt remaining butter and put all of the spinach in the skillet, season with salt, and toss to coat. Cook, stirring often, until wilted. Remove from skillet.
- Butter a 3-quart or larger casserole dish generously. Place half of the dried bread cubes in the dish. Evenly distribute half of the mushrooms and spinach, and then sprinkle with half of the cheese. Repeat with remaining bread, mushrooms, spinach, and cheese.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Slowly pour over the bread mixture in the casserole dish. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.
- In the morning, preheat the oven to 325. Remove plastic wrap and bake for 50~75 minutes until top is browned and interior is set. If the top is getting too dark before the center is set, cover loosely with foil until ready.
- Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.