Ham and Gruyere Bread Pudding

I’m baaaaaaack!  Well, mostly.  I still have what I call *holiday brain* (the inability to think clearly or in a focused way), and I would like to sleep for about three weeks.  But otherwise, I’m back!  Holiday business craziness is officially over again–at least until February.

Now, I know this is too late for anyone to use tomorrow, but trust me–bookmark this for New Year’s Day.  Put it together the day before, slide it in the oven in the morning as you reach for your giant mug of coffee, and I swear you’ll forgive me for abandoning you for the last three weeks.  Four weeks?  Holiday brain.

Also, two important things about this recipe–other than the fact that it is dead easy and a great way to use up those leftover loaves of bread that hang around during the holidays.  First, you really should add some carmelized onions to this.  I meant to, I really did.  Holiday Brain.  Second, feel free to mess around with it all you like–maybe bacon instead of the ham?  Or a veggie version with some spinach and carmelized onions?  Stick with the bread, eggs, and milk, and change up anything else you want.

I’m lucky to have a picture to post for this one–my husband liked it so much that he nearly polished off the entire pan last night.  He left me enough to take a picture with today, and then promptly snatched the plate back from me when I was done with the picture.  Fair enough, seeing as he is cooking the entire menu for today: pork shoulder with figs, garlic and pinot noir; soft polenta with parmesan; creamed spinach; brie en croute with pecans and bourbon; and vanilla bean creme brulee.  (mostly recipes from Sunset Magazine)

Oh yeah, and today is our 8th wedding anniversary.  I sure caught me a good one.  😉

Happy Holidays and good eating to you all!

*UPDATE: You must add a carmelized onion to this, it is THE BEST THING EVER.  Recipe below has been updated.

Ham and Gruyere Bread Pudding

  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 to 6 cups day old (or super stale) rustic bread, cubed (I used 1/2 a French Batard, straight out of the freezer)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1-2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence, or spices of your choice
  • 1 cup diced smoked ham
  • 1 cup gruyere, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat 1T butter and 1T olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium high heat until butter is melted.  Add sliced onions, stir well, and reduce heat to medium low.  Cook onions, stirring often, until completely soft and nicely browned, about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Layer about half of the bread in a large baking dish (souffle pans and dutch ovens work great).  Top with half of the ham, half of the cheese, and half of the carmelized onions.  Repeat with remaining bread, ham, cheese and onions.  Whisk together the eggs, milk, and seasonings.  Pour over the bread mixture, making sure to coat each piece of bread as much as possible.  If your bread is very stale, you will want to refrigerate the dish for at least an hour, allowing the bread to soak up some custard.  You can also cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight at this point.  Bring the dish back out of the fridge while the oven is heating, and push down any of the bread pieces that look a little dry on top.  Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of the dish feels hot to the very tip when removed.  The total time will depend on how deep your dish is (deeper=longer), so keep an eye on it! Serves about 6 normal people.  Or one very hungry husband, twice.

Bread pudding is even better leftover, if you can hang onto it that long–the custard and bread set up together so that you can cut nice pieces that hold their shape, and the flavors come together even better the next day.

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