Prep 3 hrs
Cook 1 hr
Another dish adopted from a wonderful chef named Chuck Taggert. I love how detailed his instructions are...makes it REALLY hard to mess up. ***Note that it does have to be refrigerated at least 2 hours before baking*** It is rather lengthy and labor intensive, but this is so good that you will hurt yourself eating it.
- 16 ounces loaf crusty French bread (this is key)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped (or substitute red onion)
- 6 -10 garlic cloves, minced (however much you like)
- 1 cup tasso, diced into 1/4-inch cubes
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup medium-dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio (a good one from Friuli) or 1 cup sauvignon blanc wine (Don't use Chardonnay. )
- 12 ounces gruyere cheese, grated (substitute a good Swiss or Monterey jack)
- 12 large eggs
- 3 1⁄2 cups half-and-half
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3 dashes hot sauce (I love Tabasco Chipotle Sauce with this, for it adds a nice compliment of smokiness to the tasso. Us)
- tony's creole seasoning, to taste
- Slice the bread into 1/2" slices and let dry out overnight.
- You may also dry them in a 200-225°F oven for about 30-40 minutes until they are completely dried; make sure you don't brown them.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large heavy skillet (don't use non-stick), then add the diced tasso.
- Brown the tasso for about 5 minutes until some of the fat has been rendered out and you've got some nice brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Put the tasso on a plate lined with a few paper towels and set aside.
- Add the wine to the pan, making sure to scrape up all the browned bits with a spatula, and reduce the wine by half.
- Pour out into a large bowl or 2-3 quart measuring cup and set aside.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter with the rest of the olive oil in the same skillet, then add the onions and garlic.
- Sauté the onions and garlic for about 3 minutes, until they're translucent and smelling really fragrant.
- Add the spinach water and let it reduce almost entirely, then add the chopped spinach and thoroughly combine with the onions and garlic.
- Continue to cook for 3 minutes or so, making sure that there's hardly any moisture left. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Whisk the eggs together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined, then add the half-and-half.
- Add the molasses, Worcestershire, hot sauce, the reduced wine, about 2 teaspoons of salt, plenty of fresh ground black pepper and Tony's to taste.
- Butter the bottom and sides of the baking dish with the remaining tablespoon of butter (use more if you need it), then make one layer of dried bread slices on the bottom. Use little broken-off pieces if you need to fill any little spaces.
- Sprinkle about 1/3 of the cheese over the bread, then cover the bread layer evenly with the sautéed spinach mixture, then sprinkle evenly with another 1/3 of the grated cheese, then spread the diced tasso evenly over that and finish off with the rest of the cheese.
- Season with more Creole seasoning and pepper, then place a second layer of bread over that middle layer, filling the holes with broken pieces as needed.
- Give the custard a final mix with the whisk and pour evenly over the entire surface of the bread, making sure you wet everything. Season the top with more black pepper and Creole seasoning and a sprinkling of salt.
- Wrap the pudding thoroughly in plastic wrap and weigh the top down.
- You can use a couple of boxes of brown sugar or something like that, but I found that a telephone book worked perfectly. This helps compress the layers of the pudding so that the custard will soak all the way through and so that it'll cook more evenly. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- When you're ready to get going, take the pudding out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature for about a half an hour, then bake in a preheated oven at 325-350°F for about one hour, until the edges and center are puffed up. Let the pudding cool for about 5 minutes, then slice and serve.