It's kind of a hard thing to show, because the dish is layered with caramelized onion and egg custard soaked Kalamata Olive bread hidden under the thick layer of gooey melted Gruyère Cheese. But this may just be the very best thing I have ever cooked (well, except for ribs... but I digress).
And that is no exaggeration, this is amazing!
Pop quiz, do you remember this loaf of Bread I made a few days ago? A wonderful sweet bread, stuffed full of brine soaked Kalamata Olives (click HERE for that post).
Jackie and I are empty nesters, just the two of us. So normally when I envision a recipe like this bread, I will cut it in half and make a smaller loaf. Fresh bread, made with no preservatives will go bad in at least half the time of store bought, so I need to plan ahead to not waste food. But I had an idea for some of the leftovers and made a double sized presentation loaf.
And here is my idea...
I love a savory bread pudding. Herb filled custard soaked bread, with caramelized onions is good enough on it's own.
But add the taste of the Kalamata Olives, and the saltiness of the brine they traveled in and you will have something great.
But I am also a big fan of French Onion Soup.
So, let's grab a hand full of savory bread pudding, another hand full of the Kalamata Bread and a third hand full of the soup, toss them at a wall and see what sticks
Here's what I did (adapted from a recipe I found on the Food Network site)...
2 sweet Onions, sliced thin
2 TBS Sugar
3 TBS Butter
1 TBS Jack Daniels Bourbon
@ 1/2 of the big loaf of Kalamata Bread
2 cups Heavy Cream
3 TBS Dijon Mustard
3 TBS "Not Your Grandmother's Herbes de Provence"
2 cups Gruyère Cheese
2 TBS Worcestershire Sauce
Note: This is what I used. Feel free to substitute, for example, this will work well with a loaf of French bread, a sweet wine to deglaze the onion pan, and a mixture of what herbs you have on hand (Thyme, Dill, Rosemary for example).
A couple of hints to make your bread pudding more tasty... Be sure to toast the bread cubes to remove moisture before adding the egg mixture. Dry bread will soak up the custard like a sponge. If the bread is moist, your bread pudding will be more baked eggs with bread. Also, soak the bread cubes for an hour before starting to bake. You want the bread laced with the custard. Give it time to suck all the goo into the nooks and crannies.
- Slice the bread into cubes. Place on a baking sheet and toast in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. That is just long enough to fry out the bread, without actually toasting it. Keep an eye on it and if it starts to change color, remove from the oven.
- Whisk together the eggs, cream, mustard and herbs
- Soak the bread cubes in the mixture and leave for 1 hour. Occasionally stir the goo together to get all sides of the cubes wet, wet, wet. The more soaked into the bread, the better.
- Caramelize the onions in a sauté pan. Onions, butter and sprinkle the sugar over the onions. Do that TV chef thing occasionally to mix up the onions. It takes about 45 minutes for the onions to begin to change color and sweeten up. Watch them carefully, fine line between nicely sweetened and caramelized coloring and burnt.
- Deglaze the pan with a shot of Jack Daniels. Continue to cook and do that TV chef thing of mixing the onions and the Jack. The alcohol will cook out, leaving additional savory earthy flavors.
- OK, we are all ready to assemble the dish. Layer the soaked bread in the bottom of a greased baking dish. I used 4 small dishes to make individual servings. I was able to do a double layer of the cubes. If there is any goo left, spoon this evenly over the top of the cubes.
- Next, add a layer of the caramelized onions.
- Add a layer of the grated cheese.
- Sprinkle the Worcestershire sauce over the cheese
- Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
- I did turn the broiler setting after the 30 minutes. It only took about 3 minutes for the cheese to get that beautiful toasted look.
And stand back, cause this is REALLY GREAT! I mean really great. Thick, rich, gooey, cheesy and filled with all the flavors imaginable. Sweet onions, herb mix, brine soaked kalamata olives, melted flavorful Gruyère cheese.
Seriously, of all the menu items I have ever made, I am most excited about this. I promise this will be on my holiday menu. I cannot remember the last time I had anything this good.
here are a few photos to give you an idea of how easy this is to make...
I did serve this up with a slice of Spiral cut Pork Loin, stuffed with a spicy Raspberry Chipotle marinated Sausage, wrapped in a Bacon Lattice (yes, pork, wrapped in pork, wrapped in Pork!)...
But that's a post for another day!