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This savory bread pudding feeds a crowd, and is easily put together the night before. It’s a natural for a family gathering, or a festive brunch.
1-pound loaf (8 ½" x 4 ½") firm-textured white bread (or 12 slices, about ¾" thick), slightly stale
6 large eggs
3 1/2 cups (28 ounces) milk* (evaporated, whole, low-fat or skim, your choice)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, minced
1 pound frozen or fresh asparagus or broccoli cuts**
1 pound bulk breakfast sausage or bacon, cooked and drained; or diced ham
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
*For a softer casserole, increase milk to 4 cups.
**Substitute sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, or additional meat or cheese, if desired.
Cut the bread into ¾" cubes. Put half of it into the bottom of a lightly greased 2-quart casserole dish, or a 9" x 13" pan that’s at least 2" deep.
Mix together the eggs, milk, salt, mustard, and pepper, stirring to combine.
If the vegetables are frozen, use them as is. If they’re fresh, cook them briefly, till they’re just barely tender; remember, they’ll continue to cook in the oven.
Top the bread in the pan with the vegetables, meat, and 1 cup of the cheese. Layer on the remaining bread, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Pour the egg and milk mixture over the bread in the pan, pressing the bread gently into the liquid. Add a bit more milk if there isn’t enough to come to within ½" of the top of the bread cubes. Cover the pan, and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 6 hours.
Sprinkle additional cheese on top of the casserole, if desired. Bake it uncovered, in a preheated 350°F oven, for about 1 hour 15 minutes, or until it’s puffed and golden. A knife blade inserted into the center will come out clean. Remove the casserole from the oven, and allow it to rest for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.
Yield: about 12 servings.
Note: Leftovers heated in the microwave are yummy.