I recently thought it would be fun to come up with a unique savory French toast. My idea was to make a cornbread packed with the goodness of shallots, pancetta, and sun-dried tomatoes, and then stuff slices of it with mascarpone cheese before frying it up as French toast. Now while I had a feeling the flavors would complement each other well, this was one of those experiments that I wasn’t completely confident would work. My main concern was about the syrup – I certainly wouldn’t consider the dish a true French toast if I didn’t enjoy syrup on top! So I hesitantly poured on some pure maple syrup and tentatively took a bite – then I promptly woofed down the entire slice standing in the kitchen without even sitting down at the table….yum! I would definitely serve this to company on a holiday and hope you enjoy the recipe! —Kerstin
To make the cornbread, heat oven to 350?F. Heat olive oil over medium low heat in a large nonstick skillet. Sauté shallots for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, or until deep brown and caramelized; remove shallots from pan. Add pancetta to the pan and cook over medium high heat for 6 to 8 minutes or until browned; remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
Meanwhile, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together butter, eggs, and buttermilk in a large bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until most of the lumps are dissolved. Stir in the caramelized shallots, pancetta, and sun-dried tomatoes. Pour the batter into a greased 9-inch bread pan. Bake at 350?F for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then use a knife to cut around the edges. Turn pan over and remove the loaf of bread. Let cool completely, about 2 hours. Cut into 8 slices.
To make the French toast, spread 2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese on 4 slices of cornbread and place the other 4 slices on top to form 4 sandwiches. Whisk milk and egg together in a shallow dish and dip sandwiches in egg mixture. Heat butter over medium high heat in a large nonstick skillet. Place sandwiches in the pan and fry until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Drizzle maple syrup over each piece of stuffed French toast. Makes 8 servings.