The Christmas party circuit has begun. All of the sudden, you turn around, look at your calendar and realize that you have something going on almost every weekend. I would bet there is a lot of food involved, too. Cookie parties, recipe exchanges, progressive dinners, potlucks — you name it, it’s happening somewhere.
Last week I posted a play on Ossobuco using beef shanks and braising them in apple cider. I can’t lie, they were pretty awesome and, by the way, it’s a great make-ahead meal for your next dinner party. To accompany the tasty beef shanks, I made some mini savory bread puddings. When you hear “bread pudding,” you immediately think of a sweet dessert, but in this case, it’s savory comforting goodness. It’s like dressing or stuffing, whatever you call it, but it’s so much better. Believe me, you will ditch the Stove Top and go for the savory bread pudding. Of course, nothing will ever compare to my Mami’s stuffing but this savory bread pudding comes close.
The base to this savory bread pudding is a crusty rosemary Tuscan bread. You can use any herb-infused bread you like; rosemary, thyme, garlic — whichever you like will work.
Cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes, spread on a baking sheet and toast in the oven at 325 degrees for about 10 minutes, turning once. Set aside to cool.
In a small saucepan, melt butter. Add onions, carrot, and celery. Saute until vegetables begin to tender.
Do you recognize this? You get a cookie if you do. If you said mirepoix, you are right! Now go bake yourself a cookie.
Add herbs, milk and stock. Bring to a simmer.
In a separate bowl, whisk yolks until smooth and creamy.
Slowly whisk in the hot cream mixture until well-combined.
Return the custard to the sauce pan over medium heat. Stir until sauce thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Be patient; it will thicken. And don’t walk away because the moment you do, it will cook and turn into scrambled eggs.
In a large bowl, combine toasted bread. Add cranberries and pecans. Pour custard over toasted bread and toss until well-combined.
Spoon bread mixture into buttered mini loaf molds or a 9 x 13 baking pan. I went with the mini or individual approach because it always seems a “little” fancier when made mini, but this can also be made in a large pan and cut into squares.
Place pan in a larger roasting pan and pour hot water into the roasting pan until it comes halfway up the sides. Bake about 1 hour or until they set. If baking in a 9 x 13 baking pan, the center may have a little jiggle. Set on the counter to cool and refrigerate overnight.
You will be tempted to unmold and dig in, but I promise you if you let it set overnight it’s even better.
When ready to serve, unmold mini loaves or cut into squares and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in a 350-degree oven to reheat and serve.
Take these mini savory bread pudding loaves to your next Christmas party and you will be oh so popular. Like, totally popular. Then you tell them that they too can be awesome and popular by visiting The Noshery and making savory bread pudding themselves for their next Christmas party.