Prep Time:20 minutes |
Cook Time:50 minutes
In this recipe adapted from Canal House Cooking, volume six, fat asparagus are used because the spears don’t wither like skinny ones tend to when baked. This savory pudding can be assembled up to a day ahead of time. Chill it overnight, then slide into a cold oven (this will keep your dish from cracking), turn on the heat and bake until puffy and the kitchen smells delicious. Perfect for Easter brunch or any spring Sunday. Serve with roasted tomatoes.
2 pounds fat asparagus
1 loaf challah bread
4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons butter
freshly ground pepper
2 cups grated gruyère
1⁄2 cup freshly grated parmesan
Trim off the tough ends of the asparagus and with a vegetable peeler, pare away the skin most of the way up each spear. Slice the challah about 1/2-inch thick, then arrange the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet with sides (the authors say to save or discard the end pieces, but I tore them up and added them). Pour 3 cups of the milk over the bread and set aside until the bread has absorbed the milk.
Meanwhile bring a pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Add the asparagus and boil until just tender, 2–3 minutes. Drain, then plunge the spears into a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking. Drain the asparagus, slice them in half lengthwise and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a large baking dish (about 3 quarts) with the butter. Beat the eggs with the remaining 1 cup of milk in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Line the bottom of the prepared baking dish with half the soaked bread in a single layer. Cover the bread with half the asparagus. Scatter half the Gruyère then half the parmesan over the asparagus. Season with salt and pepper. Make another layer with the remaining slices of bread and the asparagus. Pour the beaten eggs and milk over the layers and scatter with the remaining cheeses. Bake until puffed and golden brown and set in the center, about 50 minutes.