Courtesy, Rey De La Osa

Resident chef, Publix Aprons Cooking School

The backdrop: Whether you fry it, smoke it, roast it, brine it or glaze it, the turkey is ... well, just a turkey. Side dishes are where the cook gets to play, to introduce bold flavors and textures and exciting combinations of ingredients, playing off the essential blandness of the holiday bird. Take the savory, yet meatless, Thanksgiving loaf—one of De Le Osa’s favorite star side dishes. This creation can complement or even replace the T-day turkey. 

The chef says: “It’s like a cross between bread pudding and stuffing. There’s no meat in it but it’s got all the flavors of Thanksgiving. Serve it as a side dish or without the bird at all. And you can make it up to three days ahead; it just keeps getting better.”

Ingredients

Serves 8

1/2 loaf Challah bread (or any preferred bread, about 3 to 4 cups)

1 cornbread muffin

3 tablespoons butter

1 leek (white part only, rinsed and sliced thin)

1/2 onion (minced)

1 carrot (small dice)

1 stalk celery (small dice)

4 cloves roasted garlic

1 tablespoon fresh sage (minced)

1 teaspoon fresh oregano (minced)

1 teaspoon fresh thyme (picked from stems and minced)

1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary (picked from stems and minced)

2 cups heavy cream 

1 cup milk 

4 eggs (separated)

Salt and fresh cracked black pepper
 
Preparation

1) Melt butter and add leeks, onion, carrots and celery in medium saucepot over medium heat. Sauté until softened and then add roasted garlic, crushing it up in bottom of pot.  Add fresh minced herbs and build flavors into butter.

2) Add cream and milk, and bring to boil. Lower to simmer and allow flavors to steep for few minutes. Whisk in salt and pepper and take off heat. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

3) Whisk egg yolks in bowl and slowly temper hot cream mixture into yolks to start to develop a custard. Whisk egg whites in separate bowl to soft peaks and set aside.

4) Cut up bread into cubes, put into large bowl. Add cream and yolk mixture. Mix to coat bread and let soak for about 5 minutes. Fold in whipped egg whites.

5) Grease a 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan and pour bread mixture into pan. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Pudding will puff up slightly. When browned, remove pudding/loaf from the oven, let cool slightly and serve.

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