THE BLOG
03/29/2013 10:35 am ET | Updated May 29, 2013

Savory Sausage and Cheddar Bread Pudding: The Ultimate Make-Ahead Brunch Dish

2013-03-28-savorysausageandcheddarbreadpudding.jpg

Bread pudding is usually sweet, but it can be made savory too. This version, brimming with sweet pork sausage and sharp cheddar, is deeply flavored with a crisp, golden crust and tender, creamy interior. I love it, not only because it's delicious, but also because it can be made ahead of time and feeds a crowd.

2013-03-28-bakedbreadpudding.jpg

The recipe was given to me by one of my oldest and closest friends, Kelly Santoro. She got it from her friend, Corey, who got it from his mother, who in turn got it from an old spiral-bound fundraising cookbook. Such is the path of a good recipe!

2013-03-28-ingredients.jpg

As you can see, I use plain ol' white sandwich bread -- there's no need for anything fancy here. As for the sausage, some grocers sell sausage meat in bulk or out of the casings (as shown above). This makes life easier but if you can't find it, just remove the casings. The best way is to cut the casings with kitchen shears and peel them away from the meat (see below). This is much easier than trying to squeeze the meat out.

2013-03-28-removingcasings.jpg

Begin by cutting the crusts off the bread.

2013-03-28-removingcrusts.jpg

Then, cut the bread into 1-inch cubes.

2013-03-28-cubedbread.jpg

Brown the sausage in a large pan.

2013-03-28-cookingsausage1.jpg

As the sausage cooks, use a wooden spoon to break the meat up into small clumps.

2013-03-28-cookingsausage2.jpg

Transfer the browned sausage to a large bowl, then cook the onions in the same pan until they're soft and translucent.

2013-03-28-cookingonions.jpg

Grate your cheddar. I think it's easiest to do it in the food processor but you can use a hand-held grater as well.

2013-03-28-gratedcheddar.jpg

Combine the bread, sausage, cheddar and fresh parsley in a large bowl.

2013-03-28-tossinginbowl.jpg

Then transfer the mixture to a buttered baking dish.

2013-03-28-breadsausagecheeseindish.jpg

Make the custard by whisking together the eggs, salt, pepper and half-and-half.

2013-03-28-makingcustard.jpg

Then pour the custard evenly over the bread mixture.

2013-03-28-addingcustard.jpg

Cover and refrigerate for at least a few hours or overnight. When you're ready to serve, bake in a 350-degree oven for about an hour, until puffed, golden and crisp on top.

2013-03-28-bakedsausagebreadpudding.jpg