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Home for the Holidays: Smoked Mushroom Bread Pudding

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You might know it as stuffing. Or strata. But in my household, this savory union of bread, mushrooms, celery, and fresh sage is known as bread pudding. It meets all the holiday requirements while adding a flavor distinctly its own—you guessed it—fragrant wood smoke.

While most recipes for stuffing start with bread, this one calls for day-old brioche—a French butter and egg-enriched bread. You’ll want a firm, not soft-squishy loaf. We’ve found challah makes a good substitute. If you can find neither brioche nor challah at your local bakery, use whatever good bread you can find. (You’ll need about a pound.)

There are lots of options for the mushrooms: morels, chanterelles, boletus, shiitakes, black trumpets, hen-of-the-woods, maitake, and king mushrooms—not to mention the more commonplace button mushrooms, cremini, and portobellos.

For unabashed richness, I add cream and eggs. And for complexity, there’s optional Cognac or brandy.

You can swap chopped pecans for peeled roasted chestnuts if you wish, the latter taking cues from crooner Bing Crosby: “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” Using a sharp knife, cut Xs into the rounded side of each chestnut so they can release steam, then place in a grill basket or disposable aluminum pan. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes over a medium fire (about 400 degrees), shaking the basket or pan every few minutes so the chestnuts don’t scorch. Let cool before peeling.

Smoked Mushroom Bread Pudding

Smoked Mushroom Bread Pudding

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If you tend to think of bread pudding as a dessert, try my Smoked Chocolate Bread Pudding. Find the recipe here.

 

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