My least favorite texture, if anyone ever asks you, is mushy. Mushy foods give me the heebies, so I typically shy away from things like bread pudding. Bread soaked in milk?? It may be tasty as all get out, but it is immediately excluded from consideration because of its mushiness.
I saw this recipe in The Week magazine last fall, however, and the little wheels in my brain started turning. Savory bread pudding?? With corn and fresh herbs? And when Mom volunteered to make it for our Christmas dinner, I bravely added it to the menu along with our roasted Mennonite chicken, fresh green beans, and Josh's famous cranberries. It was, without a doubt, the best thing I've eaten since the last time I posted. So I had to share.
The bread was chewy and crisp on top and the pungent Gruyere and herbs all mixed together for a perfect side dish. I ate the leftovers for days afterward with a big smile on my face.
Corn and Brown Butter Bread Pudding
3 cups whole milk
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp chopped fresh sage
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, plus add'l for buttering the pan
2 ears fresh sweet corn, kernels removed (about 1-1/2 cups)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
8 cups stale country white bread, crust on, cut or torn into half-inch pieces
2 cups grated Gruyère cheese
Heat oven to 375 degrees; butter 9-by-13-inch baking dish. In medium saucepan, combine milk, rosemary, thyme, sage, black pepper. Cook over high heat until just before milk reaches simmer. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Heat butter in large skillet over medium heat, whisking occasionally until melted and solids turn golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add corn and salt, stir over low heat for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. In large bowl, whisk eggs. Whisk in cooled milk, stir in bread, cheese, corn mixture until well combined. Pour mixture into baking dish, pressing down on bread to make sure it is submerged. Let mixture sit for about 15 minutes while bread absorbs liquid. Bake for 35 minutes, until golden brown, rotating once for even cooking. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.