Monday, January 4, 2010

CSA week five - Mushroom bread pudding

This is only marginally a CSA recipe; I used the oyster mushrooms, but lots of other mushrooms too. This was, as I said on Saturday, more about using up half a loaf of staling bread and too many eggs, a task at which it succeeded quite well. As usual, I looked at a bunch of different recipes and cobbled together my own version of the dish. Many recipes suggested using this as a side dish to steak, but, as my own innovation, I decided to incorporate the beef into the dish proper.

1 1/2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 pound of assorted mushrooms
I used:
3 1/2 ounces oyster mushrooms, chopped
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
4 1/2 reconstituted assorted dried mushrooms including criminis, porcinis, cloud ears, shiitake, chanterelle and oyster mushrooms, chopped. Save a little of the soaking water.
1/4 pound sirloin tip, sliced against the grain into strips and cut into 2-inch lengths
1 handful parsley, chopped

6 cups semi-stale bread, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
The bread I had on hand was a 5-minute-a-day recipe with good amounts of whole wheat and rye. It had a dense spongy texture good for sandwiches, but not really ideal for this application. For the record, I wasn't entirely thrilled with the bread and I'm going back to normal no-shortcuts baking.

6 extra large eggs
2 cups cream
1 cup milk
1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese plus a little more
hot sauce
Worcestershire sauce

0. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly salt the sirloin tip.

1. Heat butter and olive oil in a medium cast iron (or non-stick) pan over medium-high heat. When the butter finishes sizzling add the onion and cook until softened and translucent, around 5 minutes. Push to one side and add a quarter of the mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Cook until softened, golden (and a little browned) and any expressed liquid has evaporated, around 5 minutes. Don't stir too much. Push to the side with the onion and add the next quarter of the mushrooms. Continue until all the mushrooms and cooked. Empty the mushroom/onion mixture into a bowl leaving a little fat in the pan if possible.

2. Meanwhile, cube the bread if you haven't already and put them in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, milk, cheese and seasonings.

3. Add a little more olive oil to the pan if necessary and add the sirloin. Cook for a few minutes, continuing to restrain yourself from fussing with the pan so the meat can sit still and brown. When the meat is browned add it to the bowl with the mushrooms. Also add the parsley and stir well. Deglaze the pan with a quarter cup of the mushroom soaking liquid and add that to egg mixture.

4. Butter or oil an 8x11-inch baking dish. Add the mushroom mixture to the bread cubes and stir well. [I found my bare hands to be the best tool for this.] Dump the mixture into the baking dish and spread out evenly. Pour the egg mixture over top and let sit at least 10 minutes to soak. [If you're using dense bread like I did, over night would be better. Lighter bread needs less time, but you could soak a brioche or french bread overnight to let a lighter bread fall apart to create a more pudding-like texture which is not a bad option.]

5. Top with the extra Parmesan and bake at 350 degrees for an hour until a knife inserted into the center comes out almost clean. Let cool a bit before cutting.

You might have gotten the impression that I wasn't entirely happy with how the bread I used turned out. It's not actually bad, it's just distinct and the wide range of textures--crisp, tender, creamy, chewy--it gives the dish is actually a pleasant effect. I would like a more integrated flavor, though. As it is, it's very much a steak and mushroom omelet with a side of toast. Now there's certainly nothing wrong with that (although I wonder where the richness of all that cream went), but I feel like it could have been better. Barring using a different bread, I probably should have processed it down into coarse bread crumbs and let it soak longer. That's a tweak for next time; This turned out pretty tasty as is.


kat said...

Reminds me quite a bit of the breakfast casserole I make so I can see this being quite good & a perfect one dish dinner.

LaDivaCucina said...

Looks really good. I only had a mere handful of the oyster mushrooms so selfishly sauteed them and ate on bagel halves!

This would be a great dish for vegetarians too, I seem to get plenty at my house!

LaDivaCucina said...

Obviously, I meant to say it would be a good veggie dish without the sirloin! Doh!

billjac said...

To tell the truth, the meat doesn't add much so leaving it out would leave the dish mostly intact. I might add some melty cheese or maybe some peppers to add a little complexity if it were going to stand on its own.

Carnivorously speaking, I think I'll double the meat if I make this again.