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Why I Make Thomas Keller's Bread Pudding Every Thanksgiving

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Burnt edges make some meals taste better, but not all—and that's why we paired up with If You Care to share a recipe that benefits from a little coverage.

I don't remember when I first started making Thomas Keller’s Leek Bread Pudding for Thanksgiving, only that I thought it silly it’d never occurred to me to replace the stock in stuffing with cream and egg yolks and handfuls of cheese. What had we been doing all these years? 

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Thomas Keller's Leek Bread Pudding

I started cooking Thanksgiving at my house early on—when I was 18, I think—and it was good exercise for my cooped-up type-A demons, and an excellent excuse to cook a whole bunch of new recipes not on my own college-poor dime. By then, I’d mastered Keller's 7-yolk pasta dough, and had hopefully dog-eared but not totally used his French Laundry Cookbook. Early experiments included a confusingly complex red pepper coulis I had pushed through a pasta strainer instead of a chinois, hack-happy home cook in the making I was. The red pepper coulis failure I rightfully blamed on myself, so by that logic he really hadn’t let me down yet. Thomas Keller’s Leek Bread Pudding was up next. 

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This bread pudding was everything its ingredient list promised it would be, which is why it’s become as regular to the holidays as our family squeaking out the Doxology before every meal. I don’t deviate from what Keller instructed that first time, except for one place: When the top starts to brown too fast, and it might, I cover the whole thing with a buttered piece of parchment for shelter.

That same parchment piece then gets shuttled around the oven for the remainder of the cooking day: atop re-warming mash, as a sort of off-kilter hat to the domed apple pie. Another tip? If the oven has room, I’d double the recipe—it’s just as good cold, the next day. 

Thomas Keller's Leek Bread Pudding

Adapted slightly from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home

Serves 12 (as a side)

2 cups 1/2-inch thick sliced leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and rinsed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 cups 1-inch cubed crustless brioche or Pullman loaf
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
3 large eggs
3 cups whole milk
3 cups heavy cream
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup shredded Comte or Emmenthaler cheese

Get the full recipe (and print and save it) here.

Photo of finished pudding by Bobbi Lin; photo of buttered parchment by James Ransom

Burnt edges make some meals taste better, but not all—and that's why we paired up with If You Care to share a recipe that benefits from a little coverage.


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Tags: bread pudding, thomas keller, ad hoc at home