I love mushrooms. And while I've been making this dish for years, only my father and I pigged out on it. One would think I'd give it up, but no, I made it year after year. Frankly, if the cook and her dad love it, they ought to have it. I can pass up mashed potatoes and gravy without a qualm. I'd rather eat mushrooms. Morels, if I've been fortunate enough to freeze some. As far as the rest of my family is concerned, it all harks back to choices...they want the mashed potatoes, fine. Pass me the mushroom bread pudding.
This recipe has been in my files since the 60's, it's one of those MasterCook recipes I stashed without attributing. We lived in a subdivision back then where everyone exchanged recipes constantly; I bet half my recipes come from those days. I've only made one change over the years, I substituted leeks for shallots. Oh yes, and Gruyere for Swiss. I matured in the kitchen. :) Doubtful anyone even knew what Gruyere was in that 1960 neighborhood!
If you agree with the "table's too full on Thanksgiving" theory, don't make it for the big dinner. Make it for supper one night during the holidays. Perfection with steak.
Mushroom Bread Pudding
1 1/4 cups mushroom stock
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme
4 cups shiitake, morel, cremini or chantarelle mushrooms or a combination
1 cup gruyere or similar cheese
Button mushrooms and stems leftover to make stock
1 loaf of bread, stale ( or briefly toasted in the oven) 1/2 inch diced (about 6 cups)
Boil some regular mushrooms to make stock- including leftover stems. Reduce this stock until 3/4 cup. You may freeze stock at this point.
Add heavy cream and reduce again until 1 1/2 cups. Allow to cool slightly.
Whisk milk, eggs, 3/4 teaspoon salt and add stock mixture, set aside.
Melt butter, add olive oil, then leeks, garlic and thyme and saute 8 or so minutes or until leeks are somewhat browned and tender. Add sliced mushrooms and saute another 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. You may freeze mushrooms at this point.
Line bottom of casserole or baking dishes with 1/3 of the bread, put half mushrooms, more bread, the remaining mushrooms, ending with bread. Pour stock over all. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Bake 350 oven for 2 hours.
Chefs notes: I made this pudding in several 5" ceramic baking dishes, so adjusted the time.