Savory Bacon, Leek and Thyme Bread Pudding
Savory bread pudding is a delicious and versatile side dish. By flavoring it with different combinations of herbs and vegetables it can complement a variety of roasted meats and poultry. This version calls for bits of thick-cut bacon, sliced leeks sautéed in butter and an ample amount of fresh thyme. We served it with our Buttermilk Brined Roasted Turkey. Because it's baked in a water bath it has a fluffy, custard like texture that makes a nice change from traditional bread stuffing.
- 6 cups cubed bread (preferably Brioche or Challah)
- 8 strips thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 3 leeks, cleaned and sliced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 cups whole milk
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- Boiling water
Preheat the oven to 350°F and butter a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
Fry the bacon in a large pan over medium heat until brown and cooked through, but not too crispy. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and pour off all but 1 teaspoon of the fat from the pan.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter with the remaining bacon fat and add the garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, then add the leeks and cook until soft and tender, about 4 minutes. Add the bacon pieces back to the pan, stir in the thyme and season the mixture to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Place the bread cubes in a large bowl and add the bacon-leek mixture. Combine the milk with the melted butter and slowly pour the mixture over the bread cubes while tossing gently with a large spoon. Once the bread is evenly moistened, add a little more salt and pepper to taste. Add the beaten eggs and combine gently.
Spread the mixture in the prepared baking dish and allow it to sit for 20 minutes.
After the resting period, set the dish inside a larger, deeper pan. Put the pan in the oven, then pour enough boiling water into the outer pan to come about halfway up the sides of the baking dish.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the pudding is set and a butter knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven, discard the water, cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and keep warm until ready to serve.
Makes 8 servings
For best results, cut your bread into 3/4-inch cubes. We recommend leaving the crust on your bread. It adds a variety of texture and extra flavor.
If you'd like more information on cooking in a bain-marie (water bath), read our article on the topic in the "Cooking Tips" section of the site.