The inspiration for this leek and Gruyere bread pudding came from a side dish that I had in a restaurant in Washington DC last month. It was served with roasted chicken and a light gravy. One of the recipe sources that I use quite often is Epicurious. Both my Daughter-In-Law and I think highly of the recipes found on this source. It doesn’t hurt that the recipe came first from Thomas Keller. It was outstanding.
You should use a brioche or challah bread. The eggy bread adds richness to the casserole. I adapted the recipe. I used the same amount of leeks and cheese, but halved the rest of the recipe.
At the restaurant the bread pudding was served as an individual cake. So I experimented with cutting rounds out of the finished casserole with a biscuit cutter. It worked very well and we enjoyed the scraps for another meal. As an aside, we have not been eating much bread lately, but we made a happy exception for this delightful dish.
LEEK AND GRUYERE BREAD PUDDING (Adapted from Epicurious)
Recipe shown as written. I used the same amount of leeks and cheese and halved everything else.
- 2 cups 1/2-inch-thick slices leeks (white and light green parts only)
- Kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 12 cups 1-inch cubes crustless Brioche or Pullman sandwich loaf
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
- 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
- 3 large eggs
- 3 cups whole milk
- 3 cups heavy cream
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup shredded Gruyere Cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Put the leek rounds in a large bowl of tepid water and swish so that any dirt falls to the bottom of the bowl. Set a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, lift the leeks from the water, drain, and add them to the pan. Season with salt and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. As the leeks begin to soften, lower the heat to medium-low. The leeks will release liquid. Stir in the butter to emulsify, and season with pepper to taste. Cover the pan with a parchment lid, and cook, stirring every 10 minutes, until the leeks are very soft, 30 to 35 minutes. If at any point the butter breaks or looks oily, stir in about a tablespoon of water to re-emulsify the sauce. Remove and discard the parchment lid.
- Meanwhile, spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through, until dry and pale gold. Transfer to a large bowl. Leave the oven on.
- Add the leeks to the bread and toss well, then add the chives and thyme.
- Lightly whisk the eggs in another large bowl. Whisk in the milk, cream, a generous pinch of salt, pepper to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg.
- Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Spread half the leeks and croutons in the pan and sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Scatter the remaining leeks and croutons over and top with another 1/4 cup cheese. Pour in enough of the custard mixture to cover the bread and press gently on the bread so it soaks in the milk. Let soak for about 15 minutes.
- Add the remaining custard, allowing some of the soaked cubes of bread to protrude. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup cheese on top and sprinkle with salt.
- Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until the pudding feels set and the top is brown and bubbling.