As part of our "12 Days of Thanksgiving" countdown, "Top Chef" judge Gail Simmons shared a sweet and savory alternative to classic stuffing (or dressing—whatever you call it). This unique bread pudding side dish is made with brioche, buttery mushrooms, crisp bacon, sage and maple syrup.
- 1 pound brioche, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 12 cups)
- ¼ pound sliced bacon
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 pound fresh mixed mushrooms (such as cremini and shiitake), stemmed, cleaned and sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped, divided
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 3 cups milk
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the brioche on a large rimmed baking sheet and toast for about 15 minutes, stirring once or twice, until lightly golden and dry.
Meanwhile, in a large pan, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Drain all but two teaspoons of fat from the pan, then add the onions and cook until soft and translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring constantly, until golden and liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and cook on high heat until liquid cooks down to about 2 tablespoons, then stir in 1 tablespoon sage and transfer mushroom mixture to a bowl. Coarsely chop the bacon and stir into the mushroom mixture.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk. Stir in the mushroom mixture, brioche, ¼ teaspoon salt, big pinch of pepper, and 2 tablespoons maple syrup to thoroughly coat. Let stand 8 to 10 minutes to allow the brioche to absorb the egg mixture.
Brush an 8-by-11-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Add the bread pudding and drizzle the remaining tablespoon melted butter and 2 tablespoons maple syrup on top. Bake until set and golden, about 50 minutes. Let the bread pudding cool slightly and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sage before serving.