What to do with leftover bread? This is never a problem for us – we have many lovely uses. We cube and make croutons (just bake with olive oil, s&p, maybe herbs until crispy), we freeze for later for stuffings and bread puddings or even just Pappa al Pomodoro (Tuscan tomato bread soup – fresh tomatoes, garlic, in a parmesan broth, stale bread, fresh basil). One of our favorite recipes is this magickal thing called Majorcan Stew – it’s a vegan dish that blends cabbage and cauliflower and tomato in such a miraculous savory way, and then you slip thick slices of old bread into it half-submerged, drizzle with olive oil and bake until crispy and it is divine…seems strange but true (i’ll have to share that recipe with you at some point).
Today, however, i will share a Rock Bottom Classic – Cheddar Bread Pudding (with optional accouterments, as usual – as you will see my mode of cooking is based on what you have and variants of preference) with Broccoli and/or Sausage (Broccoli and Cheddar are best friends – just ask Josh, he’s got a song about their love affair). It is inspired by an Arrows Restaurant recipe (so sad I never got to go there, but Frasier & Gaier have another spot – you know, if you wanted to take me somewhere for my birthday – ha!) but adjusted for family eating as a main course. Cozy, cheesy, bready goodness.
Cheddar Bread Pudding
2 cups heavy cream (and 1/2 cup milk for more moistening if needed)
4 Large eggs
1 1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar Cheese
2 Tbsp melted butter (plus 2 Tbsp cut into 4 chunks for topping casserole, and a little for preparing dish)
6 cups 1/2″ cubes of bread (leftover bread works best)
1 small head of broccoli (about 1/2lb), chopped small, blanched and drained
1 Tbsp fresh herb (rosemary, thyme, sage), minced
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper (or to taste, some cheeses/butter/sausage are saltier than others)
1/2 lb ground sausage, precook in saute pan, drain juices (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9×9 baking dish.
In a Large bowl whisk together eggs, cream, and 1 1/4 cup of grated cheddar cheese, nutmeg, salt & pepper, herb, melted butter until combined. Stir in bread and let soak for 10 min (it wants to be wet but not soaked/breaking down, if too dry add a little milk 1/4 cup at a time to get a good wet but not sloppy consistency – another way to tell is if the bread looks moist but there is just a little liquid – 1 Tbsp or so- in bottom of bowl).
Mix in sausage if using, and broccoli, stir to combine. Add to prepared baking dish and scatter 1/4 cup grated cheddar over top, then dot with remaining butter.
Bake for 30 min until golden brown on top and a knife inserted comes out clean (keep in mind, melted cheese might fool you). Let cool for 5-10 min before serving. Should be soft and gooey inside but cooked through nicely with crunchy bits on top. Mmmmmm…