This recipe is from the post: Holiday Happiness: Ham, Fontina and Spinach Bread Pudding.
Ham, Fontina and Spinach Bread Pudding (Gourmet December 1999)
Serves 6 to 8, can be halved
1 large baguette (3/4 lb.)
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
2 onions, chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. cooked ham, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 large eggs
1 quart whole milk (2% will work, too)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
6 cups spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
3/4 lb. Fontina cheese, grated
Preheat the broiler. Diagonally cut the baguette into 3/4″ thick slices crosswise and brush both sides with butter. Toast on a baking sheet under the broiler until golden, about 30 seconds on each side. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees if cooking the pudding right away.
Saute the onions in the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat until they are golden, stirring occasionally. Add the ham and saute until the ham is lightly browned. Remove the pan from heat and set aside. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl , then whisk in the milk, salt, nutmeg and some fresh ground black pepper to taste. Add the toasted bread to the custard mix and gently toss to coat. Transfer the saturated bread to a shallow 3 quart casserole, slightly overlapping the slices. Pour any remaining egg mixture over.
Tuck spinach and ham between the slices, reserving a little of the ham mixture to sprinkle on top. Sprinkle the cheese over the pudding, lifting slices with a spatula to allow some to fall between them. Sprinkle the reserved ham over the pudding and bake in the middle of the oven 45 minutes to an hour, or until puffed and edges of the bread are golden and the custard is set in the middle.
Note: If assembling the day before, as I always do, increase the baking time to 1 hour 10 minutes if you’re making a full recipe and the pudding is cold when you put it in the oven. Cover the top with foil after 45 minutes to prevent browning, and if you’ve made a half recipe as I have today, check your pudding at 45 minutes, cover it and watch it for the next 15 to 20 until set. You can use italian sausage (or other as stated above) instead of ham, just remove it from the casings and cook it off before adding to the recipe. Goat cheese or Gruyere can also be substituted for the Fontina.