Smoked Mushroom Bread PuddingSteven Raichlen
Here’s my version of Thanksgiving stuffing; it meets all the holiday requirements while adding a flavor distinctly its own. You guessed it: the taste of wood smoke. Brioche and cream make it unabashedly rich,
while pan-fried exotic mushrooms and sage add earthy autumnal flavors. (For even more seasonal flavor, add roasted chestnuts.) And you don’t cook it inside the turkey, because cooking a stuffing inside the bird is something I’ve always found deleterious to both the bird and the stuffing.
Brioche is a French butter and egg-enriched bread. You’ll want a firm, not soft- squishy loaf. (Stale brioche works great here.) Challah makes a good substitute.
There are lots of options for mushrooms: morels, chanterelles, boletus, shiitakes, black trumpets, hen-of-the- woods—not to mention the more commonplace button mushrooms, cremini, and portobellos. Most are available at Whole Foods and many other supermarkets.
Other Great Holiday Side Dishes:
- Steakhouse Potatoes
- Barbecued Brussels Sprouts
- Grilled Asparagus and Corn Salad with Charred Lemon Vinaigrette
- Salt Slab Squash
Smoked Mushroom Bread Pudding
- Advance Prep: 30 minutes
- Grill Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 8 servings
- Method: Smoke-roasting
- Equipment: A large aluminum foil pan, such as a turkey roasting pan; 12-inch cast-iron skillet
- 1 loaf (1 pound) day-old brioche, cut into 1-inch cubes (8 to 10 cups)
- 12 ounces mixed exotic mushrooms
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 bunch scallions, trimmed, white and light green parts thinly sliced
- 1 rib celery, trimmed and chopped (optional)
- 8 fresh sage leaves, thinly slivered
- 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans or peeled roasted chestnuts
- ¼ cup Cognac or bourbon (optional)
- 5 large eggs (preferably organic)
- 3 cups heavy (whipping) cream
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt (sea or kosher), or to taste
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1: Set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium (350°F).
2: Arrange the brioche chunks in a single layer in a large aluminum foil pan. Place the pan on the grill grate away from the heat and cover the grill. For even more smoke avor, add wood chunks or handfuls of wood chips to the coals. Indirect-grill the brioche, stirring occasionally so the cubes brown evenly, until toasted and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Set the pan of brioche aside to cool.
3: Meanwhile, trim the ends off the mushroom stems; remove and discard the stems if using shiitakes. Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel. Cut large mushrooms into 1⁄4-inch slices; leave small ones whole.
4: Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet on the stove or grill side burner over medium-high heat. Add the scallions, celery, if using, and sage and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and pecans. Increase the heat to high and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms brown and all their liquid evaporates, 5 minutes. Add the Cognac, if using, and boil until only 2 tablespoons of liquid remain, 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
5: Crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Whisk in
the cream. Stir in the mushroom mixture, then the brioche cubes. Grate in the nutmeg and stir in salt and pepper; the mixture should be highly seasoned. Spoon it back into the skillet and top with the remaining 3 tablespoons butter, cut into thin slices. (The pudding can be prepared several hours ahead to this stage; cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate, if you have room. But the texture will be better if you cook it right away.)
6: If you shut down the grill after toasting the brioche, re it up again for indirect grilling and preheat to 350°F. Add the wood chunks or chips to the coals following the manufacturer’s instructions. Cover the grill and smoke-roast the pudding until puffed and browned on top and cooked through (a skewer inserted into the center should come out clean), about 45 minutes.
7: Serve it right from the skillet. Even more reason to give thanks for Thanksgiving.
You could cook the pudding in your smoker (add 1 to 2 hours to the cooking time), but I like the crisp crust you get at a higher temperature that comes with smoke-roasting on a kettle grill. Besides, your smoker is probably already occupied with your turkey.