I have a love hate relationship with salt. I love salt – it is a necessary ingredient for almost everything, although sometimes too much of a good thing completely backfires. That’s exactly what happens with salt. As soon as you cross over the edge of too much salt – your entire recipe is ruined. Then I hate salt. There are times when a wedge of potato can fix your mess (like in soups), but there are other times when you are just out of luck. Boy do I hate when that happens…and it is not always my fault – which makes it even worse.
Over the years, I have gotten really good at knowing when I have salted enough. If anything, I will err on the side of a little less salt, and put the salt on the table for people to add their own. My in-laws for instance, do not use any salt – I have to be very careful when I cook for them that there is no hint of salt – I can use a little to bring out the flavor – but that is about it. Eggs are just about the most difficult thing to judge though – especially when they are raw, and you are trying to salt before you cook.
I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit, and I have been excited to make it for months. I finally had the opportunity – and when I read through the recipe, there was one thing that struck me – the amount of salt. The recipe called for a teaspoon of salt – that is a lot – but then again, there were six eggs. I decided to follow the recipe exactly, since Bon Appetit usually does an excellent job testing their recipes before they publish. I should have gone with my instincts. This dish was so salty, it was almost hard to eat. I was super disappointed, because I could tell that it would have been awesome had the salt not overpowered the world. I had to make it again – it was driving me nuts. This time I put in half the salt – and it was so much better – I could actually taste the pancetta and the cheese, oh and that tender bread that was crunchy on the outside – wow. Exactly what I had imagined the first time.
I amended the recipe below to save you from high blood pressure, swelling, drinking too much water (hey wait, that’s a good thing isn’t it) – and so you can taste all those other ingredients in this bread pudding. Don’t worry salt – even though I may hate you at times, I will always find a way to love you again. Isn’t that what a love hate relationship is all about? Or is it, I hate to love you, and love to hate you? Now that’s just plain silly.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 medium bunch broccoli rabe (rapini), trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more
- 6 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 pound country-style white bread, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
- 6 thin slices pancetta (Italian bacon)
Preheat oven to 350°. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir until garlic is softened, about 30 seconds. Add broccoli rabe; sea-son with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, until wilted, about 2 minutes; let cool slightly. Meanwhile, whisk eggs, milk, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoons pepper in a large bowl to blend. Add broccoli rabe mixture, bread, and 1/2 cup Parmesan; toss to combine. Transfer to a 1-1/2-qt. baking dish. Top with pancetta and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
Bake pudding until puffed, browned in spots, and set in the center, 45-55 minutes.
For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Parmesan Bread Pudding with Broccoli Rabe and Pancetta