Savory Bread Pudding: Weeknight Save

I got home late after the longest day at the office, and I was inches away from getting takeout. Yes: Kate getting takeout, one of the rarest naturally occurring phenomena. Papalote beckoned me; Serrano’s suddenly seemed like the tastiest slice in the world. I was about to duck into a bodega for a sleeve of Pop Tarts, but at the last second, I withdrew. I had big plans for a loaf of stale bread.

You see, I’d been saving this bread for bread pudding. I was thinking sweet, initially, but then recalled a Bittman recipe I’d seen for savory. It would be perfect for dinner — the day had been cool, and I envisioned myself all wrapped up in a blanket, listening to Cat Power, eating a bowl of the pudding: Max Coziness. The power of this image was able to destabilize my momentary laziness, and I got to work.

My pudding was a modification of Mark Bittman’s Savory Bread Pudding, the recipe for which can be found here. Curious about the tweaks I made? Read on:

  • I reduced the amount of milk from 2 cups to 1.5 cups. BUT, to prevent the pudding from becoming too dry, I added two beaten eggs to the milk mixture.
  • I only used parmesan cheese (maybe 3 ounces? I didn’t measure) because I was too lazy to grate any mozzarella. Ooops.
  • In addition to sautéed shiitakes, I added garlic powder, minced green onions, and golden raisins to the bread mixture — worked like a charm!

How was the end result? See for yourself:

 My first bite was a timid one: I had small doubts about my willy-nilly inclusion of raisins. My second bite was much larger: the sweet raisins tasted perfect alongside the earthy mushrooms. Bittman, those mushrooms were a good call — without them, this dish would have tasted like, uh, bread soaked in milk and then baked for a bit. With them, the pudding was a real meal.

Next time around, I’m going to add some toasted nuts (toasted pistachios, or maybe pecans) and some additional sautéed veggies, just for healthiness’ sake. I might also bake the pudding for 3 – 5 minutes longer. (Note: The range is 35 – 40 minutes; my pudding baked for 37 and could have been a tetch crisper.)

As I set about my dinner prep last night, my roommate Scott asked if I’m “always in a cooking mood.” The short answer is no, I’m not. Last night, I was especially not in a cooking mood, but overcoming that initial stubbornness made my dinner all the more enjoyable: not only did I sidestep takeout temptation, but I felt good about having achieved something tangible at the end of a crazy day. I felt good about using that stale bread, and I felt good eating a warm meal. So many good things — I’ll remember these things the next time I feel like a cereal dinner.

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