Dessert lovers know the comfort of a rich bread pudding, a way to top yesterday’s bread with custard and cook it in a casserole dish into something sublime. (“Casserole” has a broad definition: simply, a side dish or stew cooked slowly in an oven.)
Leave out the sugar and you have a savory custard, to be served as a side with dinner.
Bread pudding originated in the 11th or 12th century as a way to use stale bread. Pieces of bread were cut or torn, combined with other ingredients (cheese, onions, mushrooms and other vegetables, bits of meat), topped with custard, and then baked until the top was set but the inside was soft and creamy.
Also see our related article on savory custard.
SAVORY BREAD PUDDING RECIPES
We’ve provided one recipe below that uses applewood smoked bacon, but here’s an assortment of delicious options from Food & Wine.
The following recipe is from La Brea Bakery, which suggests it to accompany the Thanksgiving turkey or any roasted meats. They make it with their Organic Rustic French Loaf.
Prep time is 60 minutes, and cook time is 120 minutes.
Ingredients For Nine 3″x3″ Pieces
1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F.
2. CUT the bread into 1” cubes, removing the crust; place in a large bowl. Pour the chicken stock over the bread and stir to wet all cubes. Allow the mixture to sit for a half hour, stirring occasionally to be sure all the liquid is absorbed.
3. CHOP the chestnuts coarsely. While waiting for the bread to soak, place a medium pan over medium heat and add the bacon and chestnuts. Stir occasionally and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is golden but not yet crispy. Remove from heat and set aside.
 Bread pudding with nuts and raisins (photo © Mackenzie Ltd.)
4. PICK the leaves of the parsley from the stems, chop coarsely and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs thoroughly with a whisk and add the cream, celery salt, pepper, and chopped parsley, continuing to whisk until well combined. Add this mixture and the chestnut-bacon mixture (use a rubber spatula to get everything from the pan) to the bread cubes and stir to mix well.
5. SPRAY the inside of a 9” baking pan with cooking spray and fill it with the bread mixture, making sure to spread evenly to fill the pan and create a level top surface. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from the oven.
6. SERVE immediately or allow to cool completely for serving later. If serving later, reheat by covering with foil and place in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes, or until warmed through.