This savory bread pudding is a great winter dish for a crowd. It can be made ahead of time for convenience and served at room temperature or warmed up for 15 minutes in the oven at 350˚F. You can serve smaller portions for a side item or large portions for a main course. Packed with savory flavor, this bread pudding is perfect for a holiday brunch, easy lunch or casual holiday dinner. You can even make it vegetarian friendly by omit the bacon, use 1 tablespoon of olive oil to sauté the vegetables and add an additional 1/2 cup of smoked Gouda cheese to the filling. If you can’t find Gruyere cheese, feel free to substitute Jarlsberg or Swiss.
- 1/2 Pound bacon
- 1/2 Pound (about 1/2 loaf) sourdough crusty bread
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1 1/2 Teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1 1/2 Teaspoon fresh ground pepper, divided
- 1/2 Teaspoon garlic powder
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 Cup chopped onions
- 1/2 Cup chopped celery
- 1/2 Cup chopped red pepper
- 1/2 Pound sliced button mushrooms
- 1/4 Cup chopped parsley leaves
- 2 Teaspoons dried oregano
- 4 large eggs
- 2 Cups heavy cream
- 1 Cup (4 ounces) shredded Gruyere cheese, divided
1. Place the bacon in the freezer to chill. This will help make it easier to chop. Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Cut the bread up into 1/2-inch cubes and place in a large bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over the bread and sprinkle thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper over the bread. Toss with a spatula to coat evenly then spread the bread onto a rimmed baking sheet evenly in one layer. No need to clean the bowl yet. Bake the bread in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the bread starts to turn golden. Remove from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 350˚F.
2. Remove the bacon from the freezer and finely chop it. Cook the bacon over medium high heat in a 3 1/2 quart oven-proof stovetop casserole pan until crispy. Remove the bacon pieces with a slotted spoon to a bowl lined with a paper towel. Pour the bacon grease out, but don’t wipe out the pan.
3. Add the garlic to the pan and cook over medium heat for 30 seconds or until it starts to smell fragrant. Add the onions, celery and red pepper and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the mushrooms and cook until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 more minutes. Season with the remaining teaspoon of salt and pepper.
4. Pour the toasted bread into the same large bowl and add the vegetables and cooked bacon. Add the parsley leaves, dried oregano and mix together with a large spatula. Place the eggs and cream in a medium sized bowl and beat together with a fork. Pour over the bread and vegetables, add 1/2 the shredded Gruyere cheese and mix with a spatula. Pour the entire content back into the casserole pan.
5. Sprinkle the top of the pudding with the remaining Gruyere cheese. Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the top of the bread pudding has turned golden brown and the cheese is melted. Serve warm.