I don't remember the first time I decided to make a savory bread pudding, but I do know it was to use up leftovers. I feel like many of my new favorite recipes have developed from a need to clean out the refrigerator. This would be one of those.
I baked bread for Easter, this massive batch of spinach feta cheese bread, but it made 4 loaves, and there was no way we could eat it all before it spoiled. I put the remaining loaf and a half in the refrigerator, thinking I would figure something out. Well, we all know what happens when bread sits in the refrigerator for too long...dry, dry dry ! My only real option was a dish like this.
I combined some smoky gouda and ham, and sauteed leeks to complete the taste. It would be good as a brunch option as well, but we had it for dinner. And lunch today as well !
Bread Pudding with Ham, Smoked Gouda and Leeks
8 cups day old bread, diced into 1 inch cubes (any kind will do)
3 tablespoons butter
3 medium size leeks, sliced and rinsed
1/2 pound ham, diced
1/2 pound smoked Gouda cheese
2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup mustard
1 teaspoon dill
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Preheat oven to 400. Place bread in a large bowl. In a large saute pan, melt butter and saute leeks until soft. Add to bread and toss. Scatter ham and half of the Gouda cheese in with the bread mixture and toss to combine well. Spray a 9 by 13 pan with non-stick spray and place bread mixture in pan. In a separate bowl, blend together eggs, milk and spices. Pour over bread mixture and let sit for 20-30 minutes until bread is soaked. Bake covered for 45 minutes, then remove foil, top with remaining cheese and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.