Irish Bread Pudding is a savory bread pudding. In honour of Saint Patrick's day, of course I wanted to make something Irish. In a quest to find something outside of the obvious, I found this recipe for Irish Cheese Pudding, and just had to try it. It's full of cheese, and it has beer. You can't go wrong with that, right? I've adapted it way beyond the original, but it somehow worked out beautifully.
The Irish have a long history of farmhouse cheese making, and it's still a thriving industry there today. This savory bread pudding was a way to use up stale bread. And of course, there's the beer. I was able to come across a dry Irish stout craft beer, perfect for this recipe. Guiness is the most famous, but there is a big selection of dark beers to be found easily.
Irish bread pudding is traditionally made with soda bread, but I loved using sourdough here, instead. The flavours of sharp cheddar and a dark Irish stout , along with the sourdough, are perfect together. I added caramelized onions for a touch of sweetness to complement the bitter stout.
There aren't a lot of ingredients in this dish, so the important thing is to use a quality, aged, sharp cheddar and a good, dark beer. The sourdough bread should be good, too. A lot of the “sourdough” factory breads are not really sourdough, but have sour flavouring. If you love sourdough, you will know from one taste if it isn't real. It's easy to find the real thing, since most grocery stores have in-store bakeries, and of course any bakery will have it.
For this recipe, fresh bread just doesn't work. Unless you oven toast it, which is even better than using stale bread, and you don't have to wait for it to stale. Toasting will give you the best texture for the bread pudding.
This dish is perfect for brunch, or lunch. Kind of like a beer flavoured grilled cheese. But in a bowl.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp butter
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 sourdough loaf, cut into cubes and oven toasted
- 4 cups aged, sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups dark beer
- 1 cup half & half
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tbsp mustard
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- In a skillet, heat oil over medium high.
- Add butter, heating until butter is slightly foaming
- Add onion slices, stirring to coat with oil, then spread in an even layer.
- Reduce heat to medium, and cook onions for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brown and caramalized.
- Reduce heat to low and allow to sit while you assemble the pudding
- Pre heat oven to 350° Butter an 8" casserole dish
- Put bread cubes in an even layer on a baking sheet and put into the oven for 15 minutes to toast, while you continue with the recipe.
- In a medium bowl, combine eggs, beer, cream, cayenne and mustard
- Remove onions from heat. In the casserole dish, toss together the toasted bread cubes, 3 cups of the cheese, and onions, spreading evenly.
- Pour beer mixture over the bread mixture. With a spoon, make sure all the bread is combined with the liquid
- Bake 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, and the top is golden and crisp
- Spread remaining 1 cup cheese over the top. Bake 5 minutes more, until cheese is just melted.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool 10 minutes before serving*. Garnish with parsley.
*Oven toasting bread cubes is a quick way to get "stale" bread and gives a better flavour and texture, too. *This dish will taste better if allowed to cool somewhat to allow the steam to escape and to let it dry out a little bit. It's wonderful cold, too!