The other day I spied a five-day-old unsliced baguette in my kitchen and satisfyingly kneed it in half. I put more force into it than was necessary, but it felt good, even though my jeans were temporarily showered with crumbs. I wasn't in a bad mood. I was just curious as to how hard the bread had become after the stale point. After that carb-rate (say it like karate), I set my sights on the second baguette I didn't use for a cheese tasting, one that I'd sliced on the edible day it was born. I had plans for this zombie baguette.
The Walking Bread Pudding
Even if you buy groceries only once in a blue moon, you probably have bread in your kitchen. And that bread is growing staler by the minute until it resembles a hard-as-rocks version of its formerly pliant self. Instead of throwing it away, bring it back to life by making bread pudding. By soaking the stale bread in a mix of egg and milk, the crumb and crust soften to the point where it's usable again.
Depending on the bread, you can make savory or sweet bread pudding with your revived loaf. I am a fan of salt over sugar, so I made a spicy turkey sausage and baby broccoli bread pudding with Pecorino. It's an easy dish to make on a busy weekend as the recipe below serves six and takes no more than 30 minutes of active time. You can soak the bread overnight, but starting the process the morning of the day you want to have the bread pudding for dinner would still give the bread enough time to absorb the liquid.
The baguette slices soaking in a mix of milk, egg, salt, pepper and dried herbs.
I soaked the bread at 9:30am, left for a hike in Muir Woods and came back around 4pm. I stirred the bread a few times in the next couple hours to ensure the bread's uniform and complete revival. I served it around 8pm with the 2009 Cave de Tain Les Hauts du Fief Crozes-Hermitage, which was fine but the pairing would have worked better with a gamier meat in the pudding such as lamb or venison. Try my recipe below with a fruiter red like the 2008 Tolaini Al Passo Tuscany Red Blend or the 2011 Recuerdo Mendoza Valley Malbec.
The Walking Bread Pudding
3 sausage links weighing about 1 lb. in total
2 cups of chopped baby broccoli7 eggs
3.5 cups of milk
1 sliced baguette
2 tbsp. dried Provençal herbs
3 tbsp. Marscapone
3/4 c. grated Pecorino or a similar hard cheese
salt and pepper
1 shallot, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
In a large metal or plastic bowl, beat four eggs with two cups of milk, the Provençal herbs, Marscapone, and salt and pepper.
Mix the undead bread with this mixture and be sure that every piece is coated. Stir the bread a few times over an eight-hour period, or just leave it in the fridge over night after stirring it once maybe 45 minutes after the initial coating.
Take the bread out of the fridge, stir it, and leave it on the counter as you tackle the next steps.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Grease a baking pan with oil and set it aside.
In a small pot of boiling water, parboil the broccoli for a few minutes and then drain it in a colander.
Brown the sausages in a nonstick pan until they are half cooked. Take them out of the pan, and then add a teaspoon of cooking oil.
Brown the garlic and shallot in the pan.
Add the broccoli and stir for a few minutes, then add the pan's contents to the soaking bread.
Slice the sausage and add it to the bread.
In a medium bowl, beat three eggs with 1.5 cups of milks and the grated Pecorino.
Pour the bread, sausage and broccoli mixture into your baking pan, making sure that the sausage and broccoli are evenly distributed throughout the bread pudding.
Pour the beaten egg, Pecorino and milk mixture into the pan.
Bake the bread pudding for 45 minutes. At the 30-minute point, grate more cheese over the top if you wish, or just wait until it's done and grate the cheese tableside.
Let the pudding cool for five minutes and then slice and serve.