It's Spring, yes. However, this weekend decided to be cold and rainy. It sleeted, even! Luckily, Jack had found a recipe that was perfect for such dreariness. So yes, this is yet another entry about something Jack, not Iron Stef, made. And this time, it's not a sandwich...although it does involve bread...
Sausage & Fennel bread pudding. Comforting and flavorful, this bread pudding had a tender middle with bits of browned toasty bread sticking out. Fennel and Salsiccia are a match made in heaven, to be sure, the bread and custard mixture their celestial cloud in which to float about and frolic like delicious angels. Divine.
Here's the recipe:
Fennel and sausage bread pudding
2 tablespoons butter, plus more for buttering the pan
3 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 links mild Italian sausage (about 15 to 18 ounces total)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large fennel bulbs, trimmed, cored and thinly sliced crosswise (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
8 cups stale sourdough bread, crust on, cut or torn into about 1/2 -inch pieces (about a 1-pound loaf)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, fennel seeds and black pepper. Heat over high heat until just before the milk reaches a simmer. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
2. Remove the sausage from its casings and break apart into small pieces in a medium sauté pan. Cook over medium heat until the sausage is thoroughly cooked and beginning to brown. Remove the sausage from the pan and set aside on a plate covered with a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
3. Wipe out the pan and heat the 2 tablespoons of butter and the olive oil over medium heat until frothy. Add the fennel and cook until caramelized, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add the shallots and salt and cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and set aside.
4. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Whisk in the cooled milk and then stir in the bread, sausage, fennel mixture and parsley until well combined. Pour the mixture into the baking dish, pressing down to make sure the bread is submerged (Jack ended up adding about a cup more milk at this point, because the bread didn't seem submerged...). Let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes while the bread absorbs the liquid.
5. Bake for 35 minutes, until golden brown, rotating once for even cooking. Serve immediately.