Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding

I am in love with bread puddings of all kinds. In a new  BH&G Christmas book, this recipe jumped off the page. Well, not actually, but when I saw the picture of it, I wanted to jump in the kitchen and make it. A great meatless main dish or a wonderful side to any type of meat, this will knock your socks off.

3 cups sliced assorted fresh wild mushrooms (such as cremini, Portobello, chanterelle or stemmed shitake) (8 oz)

2 medium shallots, sliced (1/4 cup)

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tables olive oil

1/4 cup dry sherry or dry white wine

8 oz rosemary or onion focaccia, cut into 1″  cubes (about 6 cups)

4 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups half & half

1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (4 oz)

1 tables snipped fresh thyme

1 tables snipped fresh rosemary

1/2 teas salt

1/2 teas coarsely ground black pepper

Grease eight (10 oz) individual casseroles (ramekins); set aside. In a large skillet, cook mushrooms, shallots and garlic in hot oil over medium heat about 5 minutes or until tender. Carefully add sherry. Simmer, uncovered, until liquid is nearly evaporated. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Stir in focaccia cubes.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, half and half, cheese, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture over focaccia mixture, pressing with a wooden spoon to moisten all of the bread.

Divide pudding mixture between the prepared casseroles (ramekins, if using pyrex ramekins, will make probably 10 instead of 8).

 Cover and chill for 2 to 24 hours. Preheat oven to 325. Bake, uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the centers comes out clean. *If you used the Pyrex ramekins, you won’t need to bake them that long. Tests after 20-23 minutes for doneness.

Serves 8 to 10 depending on size of individual casseroles

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