I love fall fruits like apples and pears. They’re pretty to look at and their natural sweetness makes them a treat. That being said I’m not really one to eat fruit out of hand, so I rarely buy more than one or two apples at a time because they won’t get eaten. One way I will happily eat fruit is in a savory application like this one from Ina Garten. Her herbed apple and bread pudding is a savory treat that will work as a side for chicken, pork or beef. It’s a hearty dish, though, so if you prefer, it can be eaten on its own as a strata with a salad to round out a light meal.
I found the recipe on Food Network’s website and even though I’ve halved it, there is a lot of bread pudding. Next time I’ll reduce the recipe some more to make one quarter the amount. That would suit two people better. I love the smokiness from the bacon along with the chunks of apple and celery. The interior is very tender while the top forms a nice crust.
If you’re not feeling the bread pudding, just make the veggies. They were good by themselves.
- 6 cups bread cubes, between ½ inch and an inch, remove the crusts if very hard or chewy (I left mine on)
- 3 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
- 2 ounces diced bacon (Ina used pancetta)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, chopped
- 1 Granny Smith apple, chopped (I didn't peel mine, but you can)
- ¼ cup sherry (I used a splash of brandy...omit altogether if you prefer)
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup chicken stock
- 1 cup shredded cheese (Ina used Gruyere, I used a standard blend)
- Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.
- Place the bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until they take on some color. (You can do this on top of the stove in a large skillet if you prefer). Set aside to cool.
- Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until the pieces just start to brown.
- Stir in the onion, celery and apple. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
- Add the sherry and seasonings and continue to cook until most of the liquid is gone. Remove from the heat.
- In a large mixing bowl beat the eggs, cream and chicken stock together with about half of the cheese.
- Add the toasted bread cubes and the cooked vegetables and combine.
- Allow to stand for about 30 minutes to absorb all of the liquid.
- Transfer to a baking dish that has been prepared with cooking spray and transfer the mix into the pan. Use a spatula to distribute the bread cubes evenly.
- Bake for 45 minutes or so or until the custard is set. It's ready when a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Cover loosely with foil or a clean kitchen towel and allow the cheese to melt before cutting into pieces to serve.
Recipes like apple and herb bread pudding are a great way to use up that extra half baguette or the wrinkly apples that have been sitting on the counter. It’s also a nice change from potatoes or rice as a starchy side dish. We served ours with pan braised pork chops cooked with apples and onions for a delicious meal. I seasoned the bread pudding to complement the seasoning used for the chops, feel free to experiment with other herbs like parsley, sage or marjoram.
This week’s theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs is Autumn Hues. I think you’ll agree that this stuffing/strata/bread pudding is about as Autumnal as it comes. Be sure to drop by to see recipes shared by other bloggers in the club and feel free to join us. It’s loads of fun.