Ham and Cheese Bread and Butter Pudding

Transform whatever leftover stale bread, cheese, and add-ins you have on hand into this comforting casserole. (Victoria de la Maza)
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By Victoria de la Maza

Bread and butter pudding is the quintessential leftovers-turned-comfort-food dish. Made using any type of leftover stale bread, cheese, and add-ins you have on hand, it’s the perfect end-of-the-week dish, as you can clean out all the odds and ends from the refrigerator.

I love it made with crispy bacon, but boiled ham is delicious, too. Caramelized onions give the pudding sweetness and depth of flavor, and you can always add other cooked vegetables, such as mushrooms, spinach, and leeks.

Do make it the day before, to let the bread soak and the flavors develop overnight in the fridge, and let it sit for a while at room temperature before going into the hot oven. If it goes in straight from the fridge, you’ll just have to leave it in the oven a little longer.

Serves 6

  • 10 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 loaf day-old bread, crusts removed (about 16 to 18 slices)
  • 2 cups grated gruyere cheese
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided

In a sauté pan, cook the bacon until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain and set aside. Reserve 1 tablespoon bacon drippings in the pan.

Add the onions to the pan and cook over medium-low heat until translucent and lightly golden, about 15 minutes.

Add the vinegar and continue cooking until the onions are really soft and turn golden brown. Season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper, or to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs and season with the remaining salt and pepper.

Mix the butter with the herbs, and spread the mixture on one side of each bread slice. Butter a large rectangular oven dish.

Start building the pudding by placing one layer of bread, butter side up, in the bottom of the dish. Spread half of the onion mixture on top, followed by half of the bacon and half of the gruyere cheese. Repeat the layers with the remaining bread, onions, bacon, and cheese.

Pour the milk and egg mixture over the bread, pressing down with your fingers so that the bread absorbs all the liquid. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, remove the pudding from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the foil from the pudding and bake for 45 minutes, or until the pudding is cooked through, and the top is puffed up and golden. Serve hot.

Victoria de la Maza is an award-winning cookbook author, columnist, and international TV host. Passionate about great food, she combines American traditions with her European heritage to create classic-with-a-twist recipes and ideas for stylish entertaining at home.

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