Maitake Bread Pudding
It’s all about the caramelizing high-heat method of cooking this mushroom. In this recipe, sautéing the maitake mushroom results in a moist, deeply earthy flavor. Maitake, or hen of the woods, is unusual in that two different flavor profiles emerge depending on the cooking method.
This dense, delicious bread pudding can certainly stand alone as an entrée. We think it’s at its best, however, upstaging a nice roasted chicken. As you might imagine, it’s simply wonderful the next day..
Serves 4 to 6
- About 6 ounces brioche, crusts trimmed, cut into ½-inch cubes (4 cups)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for the baking dish
- ¾ pound maitake mushrooms, cleaned and torn into large petals
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bunch green onions, white parts and some of the green, finely minced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh chives
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- 4 large eggs, well beaten
- ¼ cup grated Asiago
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
- Place a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Butter a 2-quart shallow baking dish. Have a larger baking dish that will hold the 2-quart baking dish nearby. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer while preparing the pudding.
- Place the brioche cubes on a baking sheet and toast until just golden brown, 8 to 9 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Heat the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted and bubbling, add the mushrooms, tossing to coat them evenly with the butter. Add ½ teaspoon of the salt, ⅛ teaspoon of the pepper, the green onions, and the garlic and mix well. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have released their liquid, then continue cooking until the pan is almost dry. Add the white wine and cook until it has evaporated. Stir in the chives and set aside to cool.
- Stir together the cream and milk in a large bowl. Whisk in the eggs, the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and the remaining ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Add the Asiago, ¼ cup of the Parmesan and the cooled mushrooms and mix well. Add the toasted brioche cubes, gently stirring them in, then press them into the liquid to fully moisten them. Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes while the brioche absorbs some of the liquid.
- Pour the brioche mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the top evenly with the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Place this dish inside the larger baking dish. Pour in the simmering water until it comes halfway up the sides of the pudding dish.
- Bake until the top of the pudding is puffed and golden brown, about 1 hour. Remove to a wire rack and let the pudding sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Tips and Techniques
The pudding can also be baked without the water bath (bain-marie), but it will cook more quickly. Begin to check for doneness after 40 minutes.
This pudding reheats very well. Cover with aluminum fil and place in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes, or until heated through.
Substitutions and Variations
You can use other types of bread for the pudding, such as French bread, country bread, or ciabatta. Trim off any hard crusts before cutting the bread into cubes.
Although rarely true in other recipes, here almost any mushroom really can be substituted for the maitake. Cook as directed in the recipe.
Other cheeses can be substituted for the Asiago, including Gruyère, Comté, Jarlsberg, or Manchego.