Wednesday, December 22, 2010

savory bacon and kale bread pudding

The supper club theme this month was Victorian Christmas.  Yep think about that for a minute.  Still don't know what to make of that.  Google it and you will come up with delightful menus filled with oysters, mutton, goose, smelt and plum pudding.  Nothing coming back in my google search for a side dish was screaming make me make me.  I found a menu in a back issue of food and wine for a modern Victorian Christmas ... jackpot!  The sides were brussel sprouts (yum), tomato and goat cheese gratin and a kale bread pudding.  Kale has been intriguing me lately as I learn to cook it.  I had fresh kale from my farm fresh delivery so, kale bread pudding it was.  I needed to do a bit more research and I found a savory kale bread pudding by the beloved Tartine bakery in San Francisco.  Mention of Tartine and San Francisco and I was sold not to mention this version had bacon in it as well.  I think we all hesitantly prepared our dishes and came not expecting much from the menu.  Honestly I think secretly we were all just hoping it wasn't gross.  Boy was I shocked ... the menu was elegant, decadent, amazing and could be served for any holiday and the guests would have been impressed.  We had pomegranate martinis, fresh oysters, brie en croute, roast, yorkshire pudding, brussel sprout gratin, bread pudding and a berry and white chocolate trifle.  Seriously delicious.  We sat down to this elegant meal after a martini or two.  We devoured the meal, drank wine, recalled our top three Christmas memories and some where things went a new direction.  We sat down as proper ladies and left the table crazy girls headed to create a dance party in costumes.  I am still unclear how things moved this direction.  What I do know is this.  I wore a leather dress and a tiara.  I danced on the hostesses coffee table.  I took silly pictures.  I had a great time.  I love my supper club.  Cheers to the Victorian Christmas!

savory bacon and kale bread pudding
adapted: tartine

12 oz day old country or french bread
One leek, white portion thinly sliced
4 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 1/2 cups cream
pinch nutmeg
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch smoked paprika
4 strips bacon
Fresh thyme, chopped
1 bunch kale; chopped
1 1/2 cups Gruyere (divided)
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the bread into 1 1/2 inch cubes.  

In a cast iron skillet, cook bacon until lightly crispy. Set aside. Using 2 tablespoons of remaining bacon grease, saute leek until soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside when done, reserving the skillet (no need to wash).

In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs and salt until well blended. Add the milk and cream and whisk to combine. Then add the nutmeg, pepper, cayenne and paprika. When well mixed, add the bread, bacon, thyme, kale, leeks and 1 cup cheese. Mix well and pour back into the skillet (Note: if you don’t have a skillet use a greased baking dish, instead). The custard should come up to the top but not cover the highest pieces of bread.

Top the pudding evenly with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and lightly pepper. Bake about 1 hour, or until custard is set. Serve pudding hot or at room temperature.

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