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Savoury bread pudding – is that a thing?

Savoury bread pudding in a cast iron pan

I keep a sourdough starter at home, but these days I don’t eat nearly the amount of bread I used to, so I don’t bake it nearly as often either. Once in a while, though, I can’t resist a treat. The other day I baked a loaf and wondered if I could integrate my sourdough into a meal. I thought of bread pudding but I didn’t want something sweet. Is savoury bread pudding a thing? Well I guess turkey stuffing is really nothing if not just that. Could it be a meal on its own?

I searched the interwebs for savoury bread pudding and a squillion recipes came up – aha, it is a thing. I closed my browser. Let’s see if I can make a good one without looking at a recipe. That’s always more fun.

My first decision was to make it start to finish in a cast iron pan. How many good meals start by sauteing onion? Lots. Let’s start there, I thought. While the onions were doing their thing, I chopped up some jalapenos, a sweet red pepper and loads of cremini mushrooms and tossed them in. I also tossed in some cut up farmer’s sausage and African sausage I bought at Starsky. I bet smoked sausage would be yummy in this too, but that’s for another time. I added some salt and pepper and a generous amount of herbes de provence. After all this cooked up for 5 minutes or so I shut off the burner.

While the onions and their friends cooled down a bit, I chopped up lots of my sourdough, including crust. Next I grated a generous amount of cheese. I used caciocavallo and some grana padano, but I would not hesitate to use other cheeses instead. I tossed the bread into the pan, then added some milk. I didn’t know how much to add so I just did it by instinct. I suppose some people would use heavy cream and make this super rich but I was betting it would be fine with the 1% in the fridge. After all, it had cheese, which I added last.

I wanted to add some zucchini and a poblano but I just didn’t have room in the pan. Oh well. I mixed all this up together right in the cast iron pan. No point dirtying a bowl, right? It seemed to me that I should let all the liquid soak into the bread, but for how long? I made an impatient executive decision on that and waited maybe 20 minutes. After that it seemed like the bread was wet enough, but I admit I was guessing.

I put the pan in a 350F oven and let it cook for close to an hour, until it looked all brown and wonderful. Very yummy.

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