BROWNED BREAD PUDDING WITH SAGE
Ingredients for 8 - 10 servings:
3 slices Neuske bacon, cut into 1/4" strips
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Spanish onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 large Granny Smith apples, diced
1 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
Grated zest from 1 lemon (preferably organic)
1 tablespoons fresh sage, minced
12 ounces day old French baguette, sliced
5 large eggs
2 1/3 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper mix, freshly ground
Saute: 3 tablespoons unsalted butter and 2 tablespoons Canola oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a bread pan. Generously butter a standard size bread pan. Saute the bacon pieces in a large skillet until they are lightly browned. Remove strips and reserve. Add the butter to the bacon fat and when hot, saute the onion, celery and apple pieces until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Turn out into a bowl and when cooled, add the bacon pieces, pecans, lemon zest and sage.
Beat the eggs with a fork until well blended and gradually add the milk. Season with the sage, salt and pepper. Fit 1/3 of the bread pieces in the bottom of the bread pan and spread on 1/2 of the onion mixture. Repeat these layers and end with a layer of bread. Pour this custard over the dry bread pudding ingredients and let the pudding sit for 10 minutes to absorb the custard.
Cover the pudding and bake for 20 minutes until puffed. Uncover and bake another 10 minutes until brown on top. Remove and cool the pudding on a rack. The pudding can be refrigerated as long as 2 days in advance.
Serving: Unmold the pudding and cut into 8 to 12 slices. Brown each slice quickly in the hot fat. Layer slices on a platter in the 250 degree oven up to 30 minutes.