This bread pudding is a savory dish that works great as either a side or the main itself. Skip the squishy white bread and spring for good quality bread. Select sourdough, country loaf, or baguette—you’ll want something with a crusty exterior.
If you’re vegetarian, good alternatives to sausage meat include plant-based sausages, seitan or tempeh, butternut or acorn squashes, eggplant, simply doubling the amount of mushrooms in the recipe, or using king trumpet mushrooms.
This recipe makes 4 servings.
1 loaf of bread, about 2 lb (day old)
1 lb Italian sausage
2 tbsp butter, plus more for greasing
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 leek, split in half and sliced into ¼” pieces
4 oz oyster mushrooms, broken into 1” pieces
8 oz crimini mushrooms, cut into 1” pieces
8 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
2 tbsp herbes de Provence
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
Prepare the bread ahead of time by cutting it into 1” cubes, or for a more rustic look, tear the bread by hand. You should have 8-10 cups of bread. Lay the chunks out on a sheet tray or large cutting board and set aside at least 2 hours, then transfer to a large bowl and set aside. If using fresh bread, quickly stale it by placing cubes into a warm oven (150-180°F) 30 minutes to dry out.
In a large skillet, brown the sausage, breaking it into small pieces with a wooden spoon or spatula. Transfer to the bowl with the bread and reserve any rendered fat in the pan.
Using the same skillet, add the butter and sauté the bell pepper, celery, and leek, along with a pinch of salt 2-3 minutes until they begin to soften and pick up color from the fond. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook another 3-5 minutes. Add these to the bowl with the bread and cooked sausage meat.
In a medium sized bowl, lightly beat the eggs, ensuring the yolks are all broken. Whisk in the milk, then add the herbes de Provence, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine. Pour this over the bread and vegetables and toss, being sure to press the bread a little to encourage absorbing the custard base. Refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours, tossing at least twice.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Liberally grease a 9” × 13” casserole dish with butter, making sure it gets into the corners and comes all the way up the sides.
Pour the bread pudding into the casserole dish, spreading it out evenly, and cover with a lid or sheet of foil. Bake for 40 minutes covered, then remove the lid, raise the temperature to 400°F, and bake an additional 10-20 minutes until the top is browned and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
Allow the bread pudding to cool 10-20 minutes before serving.
Buy the spices you need to make this recipe!