Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding


3 tablespoons butter (plus 2 tsp)
2 cups onions (about 2 large) - chopped
1 1/2 lb mushrooms (mix of shiitake caps & cremini) - sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
3/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 cup Madeira
1 can rich beef broth (10 1/2 oz)
1 cup heavy cream or creme fraiche
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon fresh thyme - chopped
9 ounces peasant or hearty whole-wheat bread, stale
or oven dried, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
(about 6 cups)
8 ounces Cambozola cheese (rind trimmed) -- cut in 1/2 inch pieces


Heat 1 Tbsp of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and season with a little salt & pepper; cook until tender, 5 to 7 min. remove the onions and set aside. In the same skillet, heat another 1 Tbsp butter. Add half of the mushrooms and season with 1/4 tsp marjoram, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Cook over high heat until the mushrooms are browned and all the liquid has been evaporated, 5 to 7 min. Set aside with the onions. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms, using another 1 Tbsp butter, and more of same seasonings. When the mushrooms are brown, add the first batch of cooked mushrooms and onions back into the skillet. Add the Madeira. cook, stirring frequently, over high heat until the liquid evaporates and the mixture is a rich brown, about 5 min. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Heat the oven to 350F. In a large bowl, whisk together the broth, cream, eggs, egg yolks, thyme, and the remaining 1/2 tsp marjoram, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Add the bread and the mushroom mixture to the custard; toss. Let sit for 30 min., stirring occasionally, to saturate the bread. Gently stir in the cheese. Brush a 2-qt (or 9x13-inch) baking dish evenly with remaining 2 tsp butter. Pour the bread mixture into the baking dish, distributing the ingredients evenly.

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