If you are a regular follower of this blog, you might remember Sarah mentioning that it was her birthday a couple of weeks ago. It seemed like she had a nice half week-long birthday celebration, capping it off with a big potluck birthday brunch! I was lucky enough to be invited, and I thought long and hard about what I might bring. Cooking for a crowd is difficult since everyone has their own preferences. You want to make something that is simple — a comfort dish, a crowd pleaser — but that is also interesting and makes everyone feel like they’re indulging. Its a birthday brunch after all!
After going through several cookbooks and my recipes binder, I finally came upon the perfect thing: a savory bread pudding. Think french toast but in a casserole, and instead of sweet, it’s caramelized onion, crispy bacon, roasted cauliflower, and sharp cheddar. Yeah, you know you want it. Lets do this.
Savory Bread Pudding
Adapted from Serious Eats’ Savory Bread Pudding
1 Tablespoon softened butter
2 Cups milk (whole or 2%)
6 Large eggs
Salt + Pepper
6 Cups or 10 oz of bread, sliced into 1.5 – 2” cubes (I like mine bigger)
1 small head of cauliflower, chopped into ½” pieces
Salt + Pepper
6 strips thick cut bacon
1 red onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 Cup cheese, grated (I used sharp cheddar)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
1. Rub the butter all over the inside of a 9×13” baking dish and place the bread inside.
2. Whisk together milk, eggs, salt, and pepper until well combined and pour over the bread. Set aside to let the bread soak in the milk mixture.
3. Toss cauliflower with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread in one layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, or until you see edges begin to brown and caramelize.
4. Heat a frying pan and fry the bacon until brown and crispy. Drain the strips on some paper towels until cool enough to handle.
5. Reserve only about 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease in the pan and use that to cook the onions until brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 or 2 minutes longer. Once cauliflower is done roasting, mix into the cooked onion and stir until just combined.
6. Crumble the bacon and the cheese over the soaked bread and mix with a spoon or a pair of tongs.
7. Pour onion mixture over the bread and bacon. Mix until everything is evenly combined. You can sprinkle on a bit more cheese over everything if you want to. I did.
8. Lower heat in the oven to 375 degrees and bake covered in foil for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes.