This is a sponsored post on behalf of Dairy Farmers of Canada.
Lately, I’ve started seeing signs all around that fall is finally here.
Pumpkin spice lattes. Knee boots and trench coats. Blooming clumps of goldenrod. And yes, even that one tree in the neighbourhood that just can’t wait for October to start changing colours.
Mostly, though, I know fall is here because I am hardcore craving comfort food… which probably explains why the moment I received this month’s Canadian cheese, all I could think about is ooey gooey melty cheese.
But let’s back up for a second, because I should probably start by introducing said cheese.
Meet Le Gré des Champs, the eponymous cheese from Quebec’s Au Gré des Champs dairy.
This organic cheese is produced using the raw milk from the dairy’s own herd of Swiss brown dairy cows (or, as they call them, “les demoiselles à quatre pattes”, aka “the four-legged ladies”), who graze freely in a grassy pasture. The cheese subtly changes in colour and flavour throughout the year based on the cows’ diet, hence the name, which roughly translates to “at the will of the fields”.
The end result is a firm, nutty sort of cheese with a natural rind that reminds me a bit of a French tomme. And yes, it totally satisfies that melty cheese craving of mine.
To show off that gooey deliciousness, I decided to make a savoury gratin that pairs the creamy, nutty flavour of the cheese with the earthiness of fresh cremini mushrooms. I know this simple dish may not look like much, but it’s rich and creamy and flavourful thanks to generous quantities of mushrooms and grated cheese, along with a supporting cast of sautéed shallots, garlic and fresh thyme.
My preference here is to use a rustic white loaf from the local Italian bakery, which has a dense hearty crumb and a nice chewy crust, but feel free to play with the bread – a light rye would add another layer of flavour, while a rich challah would turn this into a rather decadent treat.
It’s equally good for a hearty brunch or a vegetarian main dish, but it’s also a dang good substitute for a traditional stuffing if you’re looking to try something a little different for your Thanksgiving plans this year. (On a side note, how is it that we’re just a month from Thanksgiving? This year is really flying by!)
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada. Thanks for supporting the brands that keep the Crumb Test Kitchen running! All opinions, as always, are entirely my own.
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
- 10 oz sliced cremini mushrooms
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups half and half cream
- 5 cups cubed white crusty bread, left out overnight to dry
- 1¼ cup shredded Le Gré des Champs cheese, divided
- Lightly butter a 8-cup baking dish.
- In a large skillet set over medium heat, heat the butter until melted and foamy. Add the shallots and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, or until softened. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook 4 minutes longer or until softened and starting to brown. Stir in the garlic and thyme, and cook 1 minute longer or until fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add the half and half and 1 cup of grated cheese, stir to combine. Gently fold in the cubed bread and sauteed mushrooms. Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish, and set aside to soak while you preheat the oven.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Once the oven is hot, cover the bread pudding with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes, or just until the centre is set. Remove foil and sprinkle with the reserved ¼ cup cheese. Bake 25-30 minutes longer, or until the top is nice and browned.