Focaccia Bread Pudding with Wild Mushrooms and Goat Cheese
This savory, custardy bread pudding makes an irresistible side dish for roast chicken, but it may well become a new tradition at your Thanksgiving table. Pair with California Pinot Noir or Chardonnay.
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ pound (250 g) wild mushrooms such as crimini or oyster, sliced or quartered
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ large yellow onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoons dried herbes de Provence
½ pound (250 g) focaccia, 1 to 2 days old, in 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes
¼ pound (125 g) fresh goat cheese with no rind
4 large eggs, beaten
2 cups (16 fl oz/500 ml) whole milk
Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C). Using 1 teaspoon butter, grease the bottom and sides of a 2-quart (2-l) baking dish. An oval baking dish measuring about 13- by 8- by 1-1/2-inches (33 by 20 by 4 cm) works well.
Heat 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms. Do not stir for 30 seconds to allow the mushrooms to sear on one side. Then season with salt and pepper and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are nicely browned and tender, about 3 minutes, adjusting the heat if necessary to prevent scorching. Set aside on a plate.
Let the skillet cool slightly, then add the remaining 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil and return to medium-low heat. Add the onion, garlic, and herbes de Provence. Sauté until the onion is soft, 5 to 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the focaccia, mushrooms, and sautéed onions and garlic. Add the goat cheese in small clumps. Toss gently with a spatula.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, 1 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Pour over the bread mixture and stir gently with a rubber spatula. Let stand for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice, so the bread absorbs some of the liquid.
Transfer to the prepared baking dish and dot the surface with the remaining 1 teaspoon butter. Bake until puffed, nicely colored on top, and firm to the touch, about 35 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.