I'm a huge fan of stuffing. Technically this is dressing because it's
not cooked inside the bird. Whatever, it's completely delicious.
Using custard for stuffing is a really interesting twist that I learned in a cooking class I took. Instead of the sweetness usually associated with custard, we give it a savory base that compliments most any meal, especially our grilled turkey recipe. Couple that with the crunchiness of the fresh bread croutons and you'll never go back to plain old stuffing.
Plus, this recipe gives each person their own individual servings, which most people appreciate.
After you've tried it, mail me with how it turned out!
1 loaf of bread (french or focaccia works best)
6 large eggs
4 cups heavy whipping cream
1 medium onion
1 package mushrooms (any variety)
2-3 stalks of celery
1 large carrot
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chicken stock
8 medium ramekins
Take out the eggs and cream and set aside so they can warm up to room
Trim the crust off the bread and discard, then cut the loaf into 3/4" cubes. Lay them out on a baking pan (don't overlap) and spritz with olive oil - use a Misto if you have one. Pam spray can work in a pinch too. Bake them in a 350F oven for about 10 minutes, shaking/turning the croutons a couple times throughout.
While the croutons are baking, begin the mirepoix, which is a universal aromatic vegetable base of the carrots, celery and onion. Small-chop (1/8") each into a flat saute pan and simmer with the butter over medium heat until they sweat down, then add the chicken stock, the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper. Let all that simmer down until the liquid is all absorbed/evaporated, then take off the heat.
Your kitchen should be smelling fantastic by now.
Beat the eggs and the cream together, but don't go nuts. You want the eggs broken up and consistent but not pureed. Add salt to taste (or don't, if you're scared of raw eggs). In any event, you should add about 2-3 tsp of salt.
Take the ramekins and put a single layer of croutons in each, then distribute the veggie mix across the ramekins and fill the rest of the way with croutons. Be a bit forceful to get lots of croutons in there and let them overflow above the top. Take the custard and fill up about 2/3 of the ramekin, leaving bread crumbs on top to crunchify into a yummy golden brown.
Arrange the ramekins in a water bath in the oven at 350F. A flat cake pan works great with about 1" of water. Lay a bar towel in the water under the ramekins so they don't slide around.
Custard has no set done time, because it's done when it's done. I know that sounds like a cop out, but it's true. It's around 15-25 minutes for this, but to surely test if it's done, push relatively firmly down on the breadcrumbs. If you see no runny liquid squish up, they are done. Start this checking at 15 minutes then every 2-3 minutes after that. Remove the ramekins from the water bath, don't try to pull out the whole water bath, as that's an accident waiting to happen. To grasp the ramekins from the water bath, I recommend using tongs wrapped with rubber bands on the ends to get a firm grip.
Let them sit for a few minutes before serving, because they will be hot.
Variations: Add some cooked, chopped bacon to the veggie mix or top with a spoonful of turkey gravy for a meatier zing.