There are many reasons the holidays are everyone’s favorite time of year, but a big one we all can agree on is the food!

Parties and gatherings are always filled with delicious appetizers, savory proteins, fun side dishes and, my personal favorite, all of the delightful desserts! 

If you’re like me, you are constantly thinking of how to reinvent classic dishes or fun ways to utilize your favorite ingredients together. A dish that comes to mind right away when I think of this type of versatility is a warm, mouthwatering bread pudding. No matter if you want to go sweet and top with a rum sauce, or savory and ladle a rich gravy atop, bread pudding is always a crowd pleaser.

One of my favorite preparations of this dish uses smokey ham, savory rich Swiss cheese, and tender caramelized onions (or, like you’ll find in is recipe below, shallots)!

This specific version of bread pudding leans more so on the savory side, which makes it the perfect dish to serve alongside any type of roasted meats or vegetables! And most importantly, a great bottle of wine from The Bottle Shop!

I hope to see photos from everyone who tries out this recipe over the holidays. Be sure to use the hashtag #HamandSwissBreadPudding and tag The Wine Bar on Palafox (@thewinebar.palafox) when sharing.

From me, and all of us at The Wine Bar on Palafox, we hope you have the happiest of holidays!

– Jason Perry, Executive Chef

Caramelized Shallot and Ham Bread Pudding with Creole Mustard and Swiss Mornay Sauce Recipe:

For the Bread Pudding:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter plus extra for coating pan

3 Shallots, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)

4 garlic cloves thinly sliced

1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh thyme leaves plus one teaspoon for garnish

8 large eggs

1 1/2 cups half-and-half

2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce plus more for garnish

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt divided

1 lb loaf French or Challah bread, stale or toasted, cut into 1-inch dice

2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese (about 4.5 ounces)

1 lb Canadian Bacon cut into 1/2-inch dice

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)

For the Mornay Sauce:

2 tablespoons Creole Whole Grain Mustard

½ lb unsalted butter

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 qt. Whole Milk

2 cups Shredded Swiss cheese, or Gruyere

Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Bread Pudding Instructions:

Coat a 2-quart (about 11-by-7-inch) baking dish with butter and set aside. Place a large frying pan over medium heat and add butter. When it foams, add shallots, season with salt, stir, and cook until browned, about 7 to 8 minutes.

Add garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook until beginning to soften and fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in thyme. 

Whisk eggs, half-and-half, mustard, hot sauce, and salt in a large bowl until evenly combined. Arrange half of the bread in bottom of prepared dish. Sprinkle with 1 cup of the Gruyere and half each of onion mix and ham. Repeat layering with remaining bread, onion mixture, ham, and Gruyere cheese. Pour egg mixture over top.

 Bake for 20 minutes, then increase temperature to 375°F. Sprinkle parmesan over the strata and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until puffed and edges pull away slightly. Remove from oven and sprinkle over remaining thyme. Cool for at least 5 minutes before serving. 

Mornay Sauce Instructions:

In a 4-qt sauce pot, melt unsalted butter over medium high heat. Add flour and stir to make a smooth paste. While stirring frequently, cook over medium high heat for 2 to 3 minutes. 

Add cold milk and stir till the roux is combined and no clumps are visible. 

Bring to a slow boil, stirring frequently to prevent the roux from sticking to the bottom and reduce heat down to medium. Cook for about 9-10 minutes till sauce has thickened. Remove from heat.

Add grated cheese and mustard. Season with Salt and Pepper to taste and set aside. 

Serve atop the warm bread pudding or use to make macaroni and cheese! 

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