“In every place bread is a staple, resourceful cooks have found ways to incorporate it into a meal, wasting nothing,” said Chad Robertson in Tartine Bread (Chronicle). As bakers, but also chefs, we at Tartine in San Francisco have found “there are vastly more uses for stale bread than hot sandwiches and toast.”
Here we use it for panade, a French dish similar to the Spanish sopa seca, or “dry soup.” Both are essentially “dry bread moistened with water or stock and cooked on the stove top or in the oven until the bread has absorbed almost all of the liquid.” The variations one can make using different vegetables, cheeses, and smoked meats are endless. A panade can be served fresh from the oven, but it presents best if it’s refrigerated a day or two. Moisten chilled wedges with heavy cream before reheating and you’ll discover just how “handsome” old bread can be.
Recipe of the week
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6 tbsp unsalted butter
2 leeks, white parts only, finely chopped
6 cups whole milk
4 slices day-old country bread, 1-inch thick
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into slices ¼-inch thick
1 bunch black kale, stems removed
1 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into ½-inch slices
½ lb Fontina cheese, thinly sliced
Heavy cream (optional)
Preheat 375-degree oven. Melt 1 tbsp of butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add 2 cups of the milk, remaining butter, and 2 tsp salt. Bring to boil and then remove from heat.
Cover bottom of deep, heavy 5-quart pot with 2 or more slices of bread. Arrange squash slices in even layer on top of bread and pour in 2 cups of hot milk mixture. Top with remaining bread and then kale. Arrange cauliflower slices over kale. Press down ingredients if they don’t quite fit into pot.
Pour remaining milk mixture over vegetables and bread, stopping when level is almost to rim. Season with salt. Cover with lid or aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and top evenly with cheese. Cover, return to oven and bake until liquid is absorbed and reduced, and cheese has melted and browned, about 20 minutes. When panade has cooled, it should appear dry.
Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 3 days. If reheating, cut panade into wedges, place each wedge on ovenproof plate, top with ¼-cup cream, and bake 15–20 minutes in 375-degree oven. Serves 4–6.
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