I'm sorry, I don't have pictures for this one.
So. My sister bought me the Ad Hoc At Home cookbook, as I think I've mentioned, and I already knew that the Roasted Chicken on Root Vegetables recipe is heaven
Today was the turn to try the Leek Bread Pudding. It's a savory bread pudding that he intends as a side dish.
Oh, did I mess with this recipe. To start with, I didn't measure anything beyond the cream, milk and technically, the eggs. I did slice the brioche bread into cubes and toast them...for half the time called for. (I might go for the full 20 minutes, next time.) I diced up half a pound of bacon, and browned that up, then pulled it out. (Using good bacon means not a lot of fat gets rendered, just the right amount for the three leeks I used.) I sauteed the leeks in the bacon fat, roasted the asparagus (which was already cut into chunks,) for 20 minutes with some truffle oil and kosher salt. I chopped up the leftover chicken from the earlier recipe. I made up the custard, and then realized that there was not enough liquid (my own fault, I deliberately shorted it,) and fixed that. And then I put it together in a dutch oven: a layer of bread cubes. Some chicken, some bacon, some asparagus, some of the leeks. The rest of the bread cubes, the rest of the chicken, bacon, asparagus, leeks. The custard.
Then I shoved it in the oven. Then I came back, an hour later, to find that the oven was...off. I burst into tears, turned it on, and an hour and a half later, found that it was PERFECTION. It was so good, I nearly cried again. Tadlet ate some of it and decided he didn't like it. My SO ate some and said it was 'ok, but didn't knock his socks off.' My roommate ate some and proclaimed it AWESOME, and could she have more, please. There's about half of it left, I made a lot.
This stuff came out light, fluffy, savory, tasting lightly of the thyme I put in and not at all of the marjoram that I noticed. It was just barely salty enough, between the bacon and the actual salt I added. The brioche gave it enough sweetness to offset the bacon. The chicken gave it a nice meaty texture and let me pretend that it was a balanced meal, between the chicken and the asparagus. I added the last layer as leeks and those got lovely and crunchy.
It ended up being a lot of work, so this one won't be done too often. I'd like to have a proper casserole dish to put it in, too, because I used the large pot that I make my mashed potatoes in, and it filled it most of the way. Half the amount would make one /hell/ of a stuffing for a turkey, if you took out the chicken and possibly added some kind of fruit, instead.
And several days later, my sister's tried it and her reaction was so visceral that she turned beet red. Sometimes, you manage to pull off the Platonic ideal of something. This one certainly had a shining moment.