Okay, so this isn't the quickest or lowest fat recipe. In fact, it involves a deep frying step. But the flavor rewards are exponential.
- 6-8 slices hearty white bread or equivalent, dried out and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 2 cups chicken stock, veggie stock, or water
- 2 14-ounce cans quartered artichoke hearts, drained
- 4 tbsp. butter
- 1/2 cup diced shallot or onion (one fat shallot)
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (or less, I like nutmeg)
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp hot pepper
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp table salt
- 1/2 tsp dried or 1 tsp fresh thyme
- 1 pasilla or cubanelle pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced (charred-and-peeled is optional but tasty)
- 2 to 4 sundried tomatoes, diced
- about 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper, jarred or fresh
- 1/4 cup minced parsley
- 2 cups diced semisoft cheese (I used a mix of cheddar, swiss, and gouda,
- since that was what was in my fridge)
- 6 eggs, beaten
- Vegetable oil for frying
Grease a 2 quart baking pan and set aside. Turn the oven to 300F.
In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat 2 inches of oil for frying. When it's hot enough, add the artichokes and immediately cover with a splatter screen -- it'll sputter a lot. Fry the artichokes on medium heat until golden and crisp, about 20 minutes (watch carefully for the last 5 minutes or so, as the transformation from bubbling to golden to burnt happens rapidly)
(You could skip this step but the browned savory flavor and creamy texture is so worth it. The tinny flavor of canning is entirely evicted. If you have fresh artichoke hearts, cook them through however you want, chop them, and use them that way.)
Meanwhile, in a 10 or 12 inch skillet, melt the butter, add the shallots, and cook over medium low heat until translucent. Add the salt, black and hot peppers, nutmeg, and thyme. Seed and dice the peppers and add them, and stir a bit and let continue to cook for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and let cook a couple more minutes.
Get a large mixing bowl, and place the bread and broth in it. When the veggies are thoroughly softened, add them (and ALL the butter) to the bowl. When the artichokes are cooked, drain them briefly on paper towels, then add them to the bowl. (Eat a couple. They won't stay crisp in the pudding, but they will be richly flavorful.)
When ready, mix everything that's in the bowl. Add the parsley, cheese and eggs, mix again, and scrape into the prepared pan. Press parchment paper on the surface and bake for an hour, until cooked through. Serve hot or let cool and cut up into squares. This reheats very well and keeps for several days in the fridge.