Sunday, September 18, 2011

Challah Pan Stuffing with Sausage, Corn, Poblano and Sage

This was shockingly delicious. I need to stop myself from fixing a third plate.

I called this a pan stuffing rather than a bread pudding since, for most of us, bread pudding connotes dessert, which has nothing to do with sausage or poblano peppers (well, a poblano ice cream might be pretty fantastic on a sweet cornbread, but I digress). However, the methods used in this recipe are much closer to a bread pudding than a stuffing—the main difference being that a bread pudding has way more eggs and milk, resulting in a rich, custardy dish.

This recipe is a bit time consuming, but I feel it is worth it (let me repeat, shockingly delicious). The two most tempting steps to skip might be infusing the milk and making the fried sage garnish. I hope you don’t, as these are two of the coolest steps, and the most applicable to other recipes (I learned both from Jerry Traunfeld’s superb The Herbfarm Cookbook. If you enjoy cooking with fresh herbs, this is a must read). Fried herbs are a great garnish to many dishes (the crunchy fried sage is awesome on top of a velvety squash or pumpkin soup), and you could even serve them as a fun snack before a dinner party. And I love infusing milk with fresh herbs. It’s a technique that works especially well in desserts. It’s not very sexy having little green dots speckling a lucious dessert, so why not infuse the milk (or cream—in fact the infusion works better the more fat is in the liquid) with speckless flavor? Imagine a berry cobbler with mint whipped cream, or strawberry cupcakes with basil buttercream. Yum.

Possible substitutions and additions:

Regular milk for the goat milk – I love the “goatiness” (goat milk tastes very much like goat cheese) of this dish, but if you can’t find, can't afford, or are grossed out by the goat milk, feel free to replace it.

Smoked paprika (also called Spanish paprika or pimenton) for the powdered chipotle – This would tone down the spicyness. However, I don’t recommend using sweet or Hungarian paprika, which is much less smoky than the Spanish variant.

Other bread for the challah – If you can’t find challah, use any light white bread with lots more crumb than crust (the crumb is the inside of the bread). Brioche would be delicious, although the final dish would be preposterously rich.

Goat cheese – crumbling some goat cheese on top of the stuffing right before it goes in the oven would be an excellent decision flavor wise, and a not-so-much excellent decision calorie wise, I leave it in your capable hands.


2 medium poblano peppers, with relatively smooth surfaces (not too many divots or creases)
Canola oil for rubbing
1 1 lb loaf challah
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for rubbing and more for frying the sage
1 quart whole goat milk
1 small bunch sage, with 2 large, pretty leaves removed for each diner
2 sausage links (I used spicy turkey sausage)
4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 medium sweet onion, in medium dice
2 medium tomatos (alternatively, I used 7 small camapri tomatoes), in medium dice
2 cups fresh corn, cut off the cob
8 large eggs
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
¼ tsp ground chipotle pepper, plus more for dusting

1.) Preheat the broiler. If you have a toaster oven, preheat its broiler (so you can toast the bread, step 5-6, at the same time as you broil the peppers).

2.) Drizzle canola oil over the peppers, then rub the oil all over their surfaces.

3.) Place the peppers under the broiler. Cook, turning regularly, until they are blackened and blistered all over, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cover with a kitchen towel until cool enough to handle.

4.) Peel the skin off the peppers and remove the stems and seeds. Dice the flesh into medium dice and set aside.

5.) Preheat the oven to 350°.

6.) Cut off the bottom crust of the challah, then cut the remaining bread into 1 inch cubes. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil, and toss to coat. Bake for 30 minutes, or until nicely toasted and golden brown. Keep the oven at 350°.


7.) Meanwhile, bring the milk to a boil (make sure it doesn’t overboil!) Take it off the heat once it starts to bubble.

8.) Place the bunch of sage in the hot milk, press it down with the back of a spoon if it pokes above the surface, and cover. Let sit away from the heat for 30 minutes, then strain, pressing down on the sage to extract as much liquid as possible, discard the solids.

9.) Meanwhile, heat a pan over medium high heat, then remove the sausage from its casing and crumble into the pan. Stir, breaking up the sausage, until it starts to render it’s fat.

10.) Add the garlic and onions, cook until they start to soften and are glistening.

11.) Add the tomatos, corn, and poblanos, stirring well after each addition.

12.) Cook until the vegetables are soft and have lost their raw taste, 8-10 minutes. Combine with the toasted bread.

13.) Whisk together the infused milk, salt, pepper, chipotle, and eggs until well combined.

14.) Rub a 13” x 9” x 2” casserole dish with a little bit of olive oil, add the bread/ vegetable mixture, then slowly pour the egg/milk mixture on top. Dust the surface with ground chipotle. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the custard has firmed up (but not dried out).

15.) About 5 minutes before taking the stuffing out of the oven, heat some olive oil (about ¼  cup, or enough to generously coat the bottom of the pan) over high heat. When it is hot, add the reserved sage leaves, 6-8 at a time, and fry for 2-3 seconds, then transfer with a fork to a paper towel and sprinkle generously with kosher salt.

16.) Cut the stuffing into squares, serve garnished with the fried sage.


  1. Again, I'm impressed. And I appreciate the "or are grossed out by the goat milk" part for losers like me!

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