Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen

by Tom Douglas

Published by Morrow

272 pages, 2001


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Etta’s Cornbread Pudding

from Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen by Tom Douglas

(Makes 6 servings)

Bread pudding was invented as a tasty way to use up old bread and it's usually served as a dessert. We've come to love these puddings so much that we bake different "breads" (like gingerbread or chocolate cake) just so we can put together a bread pudding. In another twist, we've created savory puddings to accompany our poultry and seafood dishes. We found ourselves baking special breads just to make them into a pudding, in this case cornbread.

The cornbread pudding here is made with dry Jack cheese, which is nuttier and tangier than regular Jack cheese. Our favorite is Vella Dry Jack from Sonoma, California. Or use sharp Cheddar instead; while the flavor of the cornbread pudding would change, it would be equally delicious. We serve this luscious pudding with Etta's Pit-Roasted Salmon, but it would also be great partnered with roast chicken.

This recipe makes more cornbread than you need to make the pudding. You can freeze the extra cornbread for future batches or, if you're like us, you can snack on it while it's warm, spread with butter and honey.

FOR THE CORNBREAD

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup medium-ground yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup grated pepper Jack cheese (1 1/2 ounces)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 cup milk

3 tablespoons honey

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus a little more for buttering the pan

 

FOR THE PUDDING

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus a little more for buttering the pan

1 cup thinly sliced onions (about 1/2 large onion)

3/4 cup grated dry Jack cheese

2 teaspoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

2 1/4 cups heavy cream

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

1. To make the cornbread, preheat the oven to 425F. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish. Combine the flour, cornmeal, cheese, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and honey. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Add the melted butter and stir into the mixture. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut into 1-inch cubes. You should have about 8 cups cornbread cubes, but you only need one third of the cornbread cubes (or 2 2/3 cups) for this recipe.

2. To make the pudding, reduce the oven temperature to 350F. Put the 2 2/3 cups of cornbread cubes in a buttered 8-inch square baking dish. Heat the 1 tablespoon butter in a sauté pan over low heat and cook the onions very slowly until soft and golden brown, at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. Scatter the onions, cheese, and herbs over the cornbread cubes. Whisk together the heavy cream and eggs with salt and pepper in a mixing bowl and pour over the cornbread cubes. Let sit for 10 minutes so the cornbread absorbs some of the custard. Bake until set and golden, about 40 minutes. Serve hot.