November 18, 2016

ham, leek, and gruyere breakfast bake

It's the season for hosting company! This breakfast bake is not only perfect for morning, but also brunch, or even a light lunch or supper! Such a win-win all the way around!

I love all things even remotely related to the bread pudding family! This savory bread pudding-ish bake is creamy, cheesey, bready, smokey, and buttery with sauteed leeks. OH MY! Make ahead and reheat on low covered in the oven or even microwave a portion. No fuss, beautiful, and divinely good! Happy hosting!

serves about 6

1 1/2 cups leeks, sliced 1/2" thick and rinsed
2 Tablespoons butter
6 cups hearty bread, cut in 1" cubes
1 cup chopped ham steak or leftover holiday ham
1/4 cup chopped scallions, green parts
3/4 cup shredded gruyere
several teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 eggs
3 cups whole milk
grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350F. Toast cubed bread pieces for 15 minutes or so until lightly browned. Remove from oven.  While bread toasts, rinse leek rings by floating them in a large bowl of cold water. Use hands to separate rings and swirl around in water to remove any dirt. Pat most of the water off of the rings. In a skillet over low heat, sprinkle leeks with a pinch of salt, and saute leeks in butter until tender, about 15 minutes. In a large bowl, dump the bread cubes, the sauteed leeks, scallions, ham, and thyme. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and grated nutmeg. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour over the bread mixture, toss to coat. Stir in 1/2 cup gruyere. Let stand 15 minutes.

Butter a 9x9 pan or a deep pie dish, then pour the mixture in the pan. Spread around using your fingers, tucking in pieces and gently pressing down so bread is mostly covered in the cream. A little top layer of bread is fine above the cream layer. Sprinkle top with 1/4 cup gruyere and bake 50-60 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.