This is the first recipe that came to mind when we were coming up with ideas for make-ahead brunch dishes. This savory bread pudding recipe is flavored with tomatillos, poblanos, mushrooms and onions. If we were preparing this dish in Mexico, the fish would probably be smoked marlin instead of salmon. When hosting a brunch, I’m always looking for recipes that are not only fabulously delicious, but that don’t create a mess in the kitchen right before my guests walk through the door. This recipe fulfills all that and more.
Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Spread the cubes of bread out on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until the cubes are dry. Cool.
While the bread is baking, roast the poblanos over an open flame or close under a hot broiler, turning regularly until blistered and blackened all over, about 5 minutes for an open flame, 10 minutes for the broiler. Place in a bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let cool. Once cooled, rub the blackened skin off the chiles and pull out the stems and seeds. Cut into a small dice.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a very large skillet (12-inch) over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir frequently until the onion is richly browned, about 8 minutes. Scoop in the mushrooms, poblanos, and 1/2 teaspoon salt into the pan along with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Saute for 8 to 10 minutes or until the mushrooms have browned and their liquid has evaporated. Remove the skillet from the heat and cool.
Shred the cheese, using the large holes on a box grater or in a food processor. Remove 1/3 of the shredded cheese, wrap and refrigerate. You’ll use this portion in the morning to top the bread pudding.
Spread the softened butter over the bottom and sides of a 13 x 9 glass baking dish.
In a large bowl, combine the bread, cooled mushroom mixture, flaked salmon and the remaining cheese. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half and tomatillo salsa along with 1 teaspoon salt. Pour over the bread mixture and stir to incorporate the eggs. Spoon into the prepared dish and press the mixture down to even out the top. Cover with plastic wrap and place another empty 13 x 9 glass baking dish on top to act as a weight. Refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Remove the bread pudding from the refrigerator, sprinkle on the reserved cheese and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Place on the middle shelf and bake for 80 minutes or until the top of the bread pudding is golden brown. Let it rest for 20 minutes before slicing. Just before serving, sprinkle the top with chopped cilantro.
The smoked salmon called for in this recipe is hot smoked. You’ll find it vacuum packed in 4-ounce portions in the fish section of the grocery. Lox or sliced salmon are cold smoked and won’t work in this recipe.