Food Network Magazine (November 2012)
We love us some Barefoot Contessa.
We like the show, the books, the house, the friends who "drop by," the barn, the contrived plot points exciting adventures -- the whole thing. We are on board.
And we've made many of Ina's dishes (yes, we're on a first-name basis, even if we've technically never met her). They're so dependable and, as her new book says, foolproof. As two fools in the kitchen, we are grateful.
So it was without hesitation that we picked out The Barefoot Contessa's recipe for Mushrom & Leek Bread Pudding for our Thanksgiving/Fakesgiving.
To our surprise, though, we're a bit split on this dish.
Quite a few guests named this among their favorite dishes that we served. And we can see why. The entire dish feels very "luxe" with gooey cheese, pancetta, leeks and mushrooms. It is incredibly rich. Clay found it a bit too rich and thought a couple of bites were delicious but plenty.
For Zach, the issue was more about the mushrooms, which he struggles with in any dish. This dish is very mushroom-y. If you like mushrooms, make this dish. Even if you're a mushroom fan, you perhaps might find this dish a little ... hmm ... aggressive. Do the pungent mushrooms play nice with all the other Thanksgiving meal flavors? Some of our guests thought they did, very much. Others weren't so sure.
What's your take? Do mushrooms have a welcome spot on your Thanksgiving menu?
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Total Time: 2 hr 15 min
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
INGREDIENTS6 cups (1/2-inch-diced) bread cubes from a rustic country loaf, crusts removed
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces pancetta, small-diced
4 cups sliced leeks, white and light green parts (4 leeks)
1 1/2 pounds cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed and 1/4-inch-sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1/4 cup medium or dry sherry
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 extra-large eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese (6 ounces), divided
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the bread cubes on a sheet pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook for 5 minutes, until starting to brown. Stir in the leeks and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until the leeks are tender. Stir in the mushrooms, tarragon, sherry, 1 tablespoon salt and 11/2 teaspoons pepper and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until most of the liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. Off the heat, stir in the parsley.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, chicken stock and 1 cup of the Gruyere. Add the bread cubes and mushroom mixture, stirring well to combine. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow the bread to absorb the liquid. Stir well and pour into a 2 1/2-to-3-quart gratin dish (13 x 9 x 2 inches). Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Gruyere and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the top is browned and the custard is set. Serve hot.