I'm not a stuffing fan. I mean, I don't find it offensive or anything, but it's not what I go for first. I'm much more into cranberry sauce and green beans and sweet potato casserole (who can resist those crispy marshmallows on top?). As I make my rounds at the Thanksgiving buffet, I'll load up my plate with every other side, leaving only a small corner for stuffing. I've just never been blown away. But bread pudding... that I can get behind. Something about the addition of heavy cream and eggs and cheese makes it more appealing. The idea came to me as I sat down to develop a recipe for the McCormick Go4Gourmet campaign, in which I was asked to prepare something that included ground ginger, kale, shiitake mushrooms, and vegetable stock. You'd think coming up with a dish with those ingredients would be easy... but it wasn't. I struggled for weeks. It wasn't until I brainstormed some ideas with Eric that this popped into my noggin. And thank goodness... because it's changed my view of what stuffing can be.
If I don't see y'all before then, I want to wish you a happy Thanksgiving. We'll be staying in Massachusetts this year, which I'm kind of excited about. It's exhausting traveling during the holidays... I'm looking forward to staying put for a few days. Of course, I'll miss my parents and sister and my nieces. But I'm sure I'll make it down there soon.
Kale and Shiitake Mushroom Bread Pudding
1 lb shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 large bunch of kale, stems removed, leaves chopped
8 cups, cubed (3/4-inch) day-old baguette or French bread
1 large fennel bulb (or two smaller bulbs), trimmed and white and green parts thinly sliced
2 large shallots, minced
1/4 cup veggie broth
2 cups shredded gruyere
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons butter
1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Once melted, add the shallot and cook for 30 seconds. Add the shiitake mushrooms and fennel and cook for 5 minutes, or until it begins to brown. Add the kale and vegetable broth. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the kale has wilted and most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the gruyere. Remove from heat.
2. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, ground ginger, and cayenne pepper for 30 seconds. Add the heavy cream and whole milk and whisk until combined. Pour the egg mixture over the cubed baguette. Mix to coat all the bread. Let sit for 15 minutes or until the bread has absorbed a lot of the egg mixture.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2 quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter.
4. In a bowl, combine the bread/egg mixture and the cooked vegetables. The mixture should be pretty moist.
5. Transfer to the baking dish and, using a spoon, spread the mixture out across the dish.
6. Bake until firm and the top has lightly browned, about 45 minutes.
Disclosure: McCormick Gourmet provided me with compensation for this post. All opinions in this post about McCormick’s products and this recipe are my own.