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.
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.