Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thanksgiving Bread Pudding - now with cranberries!

I love stuffing. I've even made bread that tastes like stuffing - which is pretty amazing for a turkey sandwich.

But that's not the same as actual stuffing. I grew up eating stuffing that was cooked inside a turkey. Lately, though, I've been cutting the turkey up and cooking the pieces separately. A few times, I've smoked the breast while cooking the dark meat in the oven.

But ... that meant I had to find a different way of cooking the stuffing. I tried a lot of variations of cooking stuffing in a casserole dish - which I guess means it's dressing - and they were all fine. But then I had the brilliant idea of making a stuffing flavored bread pudding. And it was amazing.

This year, I decided I wanted an early Thanksgiving, so I bought and cooked a small turkey breast. I enjoyed my sandwiches, but then I started thinking about stuffing. Then, I went to an event sponsored by Sprouts Farmers Market and they tossed a can of cranberry sauce into the goodie bag.

And I had a great idea. A stuffing bread pudding studded with chunks of turkey, with a layer of cranberry sauce on the bottom. It was like Thanksgiving in one bite.

This would be a great lunch or brunch meal, or a perfect dinner item for folks who like the stuffing better than anything else. You could certainly use leftover cooked turkey for this.

Or, if you're not the one who hosted the holiday and you have no turkey, you could cook a small turkey breast, or you could get some turkey deli meat. Just ask for the turkey to be cut into 1/2-inch slices so you can cut it into cubes.

This would also be good with chicken instead of turkey.

Thanksgiving Bread Pudding with Cranberry Sauce

4 tablespoons butter
3 ribs of celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
Salt and pepper, to taste
4-6 cups cubed stale bread
2 cups cubed turkey
1 can cranberry sauce
8 eggs (more, if needed)
1 cup milk (more, if needed)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and have an 8- or 9-inch baking dish standing by.

Heat the butter in a saute pan. Add the celery and onions and cook until it begins to soften. Add the poultry seasoning, sage, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring as needed, until the vegetables are cooked through. Taste for seasoning. This should be well seasoned, since it will be combined with a lot of bread and eggs.

Put the bread in a large bowl. Add the cooked vegetables and turkey. Toss to combine. You don't want to mash or tear the bread any further - just mix it together.

Spread the cranberry sauce evenly on the bottom of the baking dish. Add the bread cube mixture to the baking dish.

Beat the milk and eggs until well combined. Pour this over the bread in the baking dish. The amount of liquid the bread will absorb depends on the bread, and how dry it is. You want to make sure all the bread is moist, and that there is liquid surrounding the bread. It's fine if there are bread cubes sticking up above the liquid a little but there should be visible liquid.

Here it is, before it went into the oven.

If the bread isn't thoroughly moist, and there's not enough liquid, beat some more eggs with milk and add it as needed. If you need just a small amount of liquid, you can just add extra milk.

Bake at 350 degrees until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. It's fine if it's wet, but it shouldn't be coated with egg.

Serve hot or at room temperature. This is also good cold, if you happen to like cold stuffing.

The Sprouts event was held at the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, and had absolutely nothing to do with turkey - we learned about cooking beef. But yeah, I used their cranberry sauce in this recipe and they provided a gift card to allow me to shop for anything I liked.