Friday, March 25, 2011

Bread and Onion Panade with Spicy Greens

Until I read this recipe, I had never heard of a panade before. Think of it as a savory bread pudding. It’s a great main dish and also works really well as an accompaniment. Be warned, this is a time consuming dish. However, you can make the whole thing and refrigerate it for the next day just prior to the baking step. I bet the flavors would be really good if allowed to sit too, like stuffing.  This is an amazingly tasty dish (especially with my requisite extra garlic) and provided me with my first opportunity to cook with mustard greens. Tackle this. It’s not difficult, just long.

Bread and Onion Panade with Spicy Greens from Serious Eats:

Serves 8

¾ lb. good-quality sourdough bread, cut into 2-inch cubes
2 Tb. unsalted butter
1½ lb. onions, sliced into thin half-moons
7 cloves garlic, minced
½ lb mustard greens (or broccoli rabe or Swiss chard), cut into fine ribbons
Freshly ground black pepper
1 c. Cheddar- Gruyère (or Parmesan or just plain Gruyère)
4 c. broth (homemade is best)
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease the baking dish or Dutch oven with olive oil or butter. Spread the bread cubes on a large baking sheet and toast for 45 minutes in the oven while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Heat the butter in a deep, heavy skillet over medium heat. When the butter foams up, add the onions and sprinkle them lightly with salt. Cook over low heat for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. When they are soft, turn up the heat a notch or two and cook them for another 5 to 10 minutes or until they are golden brown. Stir frequently to keep them from burning.
Turn down the heat and add the garlic. Cook for 5 minutes or until golden and fragrant. Add the greens and cook, stirring frequently. Sprinkle the greens with salt and pepper as they cook. When they are wilted and soft, take them off the heat.
Layer half of the toasted bread cubes in the bottom of the prepared dish. Spread half of the greens mixture over the bread cubes and pack it down into the gaps between the bread. Sprinkle with about half of the cheese. Make another layer of the remaining bread cubes and remaining greens. Cover with the remaining cheese. Heat the broth to a simmer in a small saucepan and carefully pour it into the baking dish. The bread and greens will look rather drowned and soupy; this is correct. Drizzle the top with olive oil. 
Cover and bake for 45 minutes, then uncover the dish and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and crisp. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving hot.

I’ve had this alone, with a burger, with salad, standing up in my kitchen. I am a little bit in love with it. The bitterness of the greens plays well with the bread and the richness of the cheese. Trader Joe’s has an amazing cheddar gruyère mélange that I highly recommend in general, but it worked especially well for this. It was devoured at Thanksgiving and again at my parent’s house over Christmas. Take the time to make this, you’ll look like a superstar.

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