Vegetarian Main Dish for Thanksgiving: Chanterelle and Gruyere Bread Pudding
This wonderful savory bread pudding recipe comes to us courtesy of our friend Jill Silverman Hough, who included this recipe in her 2011 book 100 Perfect Pairings: Main Dishes to Enjoy with Wines You Love.
Chanterelles are in full force during the fall but still pricey enough to be special-occasion food, so vegetarians will feel well cared-for with this savory, hearty dish at the center of their plates. If you can’t get your hands on chanterelles or the money to buy them, I’ve also made this recipe substituting two thinly sliced leeks for the chanterelles. It’s wonderful either way, and I liked both versions paired with the Chardonnay that Jill recommends for the chanterelle version.
If you like, make Chanterelle and Gruyere bread pudding up to a day in advance and store, tightly covered, in the fridge. Bring to room temperature and then bake as directed just before serving.
- 3 cups milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for buttering the pan
- 6 ounces chanterelle mushrooms, coarsely sliced (about 2 1/2 cups) OR 2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and then sliced thin
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 5 large eggs
- 12 ounces crusty artisan French or Italian bread, with crusts, cut or torn into 3/4-inch pieces (about 12 cups)
- 8 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (about 3 cups)
- Butter the casserole dish or soufflé molds and set aside.
- Combine the milk, chopped herbs, and pepper in a medium pot with a heavy bottom. Set over medium-high heat until the milk just begins to simmer. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a wide skillet over medium heat. Then add the mushrooms and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. (If substituting leeks, cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat if necessary to prevent browning.) Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the cooled milk mixture. Add the bread cubes, shredded cheese, and mushroom or leek mixture and stir until well combined. Set aside for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, to let the bread absorb the liquid.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the center (or one rung below center, if you have a teensy British oven).
- Spoon the mixture into the casserole dish or soufflé molds. Bake until the top is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Serve hot.