I wanted to try something new to substitute for stuffing this year, so I turned to a savory bread pudding instead. This is a really beautiful twist on the tradition, making use of the colors and fragrances of the season. It will fill your kitchen with intense mushroom and cheese aromas to make your mouth water.
You can easily make the whole pudding a day before. Let those flavors soak into the bread overnight, bring it up to room temperature before you pop it in the oven to cook. This is a great stress relief on the big day. Plus, any leftovers—if you should have them—can easily be frozen.
- 1 cup dried mushrooms, preferably porcini
- 1 1/2 cups hot water
- 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 medium leeks, white and tender green parts, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound mixed mushrooms, rough chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 7 large eggs
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 8 cups day old bread, cut into 2-inch cubes (if you don't have day-old bread, you may toast the cubed pieces in the oven for about 5 minutes)
- 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, rough chopped
- 1 cup Gruyere, grated
- 1 cup Parmesan, grated
- 1 teaspoon pepper, or more to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Add hot water to dried mushrooms and set aside for 30 minutes.
- Toss the butternut squash with half of the olive oil and salt, then add to a baking sheet and put into the oven for 30 minutes.
- In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium high heat and add the leeks, a pinch of salt and let them cook down until semi-translucent, for about 5 minutes.
- Toss the fresh mushrooms with the rest of the olive oil, half of the remaining salt and half of the pepper, and the thyme.
- Add garlic to the leeks and stir.
- When the dried mushrooms have rehydrated, drain the liquid and chop them before adding them into mushroom mixture.
- Add remaining butter to the leeks, and then the mushrooms, combine everything in the pan and let the mushrooms cook down, stirring frequently until brown, about 10 minutes.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the cream, half and half, Dijon mustard, parsley, remaining salt and pepper.
- Pull the squash from the oven and reduce the temperature to 375 degrees.
- Let the mushrooms and squash cool while you add the custard mixture to the bread and toss.
- Gently stir in the mushrooms and squash when they're cool enough so that they will not cook the custard and let sit for 30 minutes. *If you're making this ahead, you can put this into the refrigerator overnight and bring to room temperature before finishing.
- Mix the two cheeses together
- Grease the casserole or baking dish you're going to use and layer the bread pudding mixture with the cheese inside of the pan, making sure that you have enough cheese to cover the top of it.
- Cook for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.
- Garnish with parsley and serve!