Panade. According to Judy Rodgers of Zuni Cafe, it translates to “Big Bread Thing”. Which I guess it is. I think it’s as much about the onions and whatever else you put in it as the bread. It has caramelized onions in it. I almost automatically love anything with caramelized onions. Then there’s cheese. Cheese is always good. When this version of panade is done it’s a light, souffle-y creation. I used beef stock in this, which made it very onion soup-ish. The bread soaks up the broth, the onions and cheese melt into the bread, need I say more? Also, it’s a great way to use day old bread. You can even save money and buy the day old in the bakery if, like me, you don’t always have loaves of bread around. Now I’ve made another version of panade, which was more soup like. Both are wonderful, and I’ve been looking at her recipe for quite a while. (Don’t you just love the Zuni Cafe Cookbook?) It’s warming up here, spring has definitely arrived. Nights are cool and breezy, perfect to curl up in a chair with a bowl of this warming your hands and tummy.
1-1/2 lbs of thinly sliced onions (about 6 cups)
1/2 cup of olive oil
3 garlic cloves, slivered
Salt to taste
8 to 10 cups of chewy peasant-style bread, cut into 1″ cubes
Up to 4 cups of beef stock
6 ounces cheese, Swiss, Gruyere, Fontina would all work well
Preheat your oven to 325.
Put onions in a large saucepan or skillet, drizzle with 1/4 cup of olive oil. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions start to soften and sweat, add a few pinches of salt and the slivered garlic. Stir to combine. Make sure and check the heat, you don’t want these frying, if you hear sizzling you’ve got the heat to high. Continue to cook and stir until the onions are soft and an amber-brown color. This should take about 20 minutes or so, if you taste one, it should be sweet and tender, not mushy.
Choose a deep baking dish, a souffle dish or even a small dutch oven would work. It should be deep enough to get several layers in. Toss the bread cubes with a few tablespoons of the olive oil and another dash of salt. Have your cheese grated and ready. Time to assemble!
Start with a layer of onions, then a layer of bread cubes, some more onions, a bit of cheese. Don’t worry if the layers aren’t all even, that will only add to the dishes casual, rustic charm. Continue layering until you reach the top of your baking vessel, there should be 3 layers, or more if needed. The top layer should have bread poking through and some onions and cheese on the top.
Slowly add the warm beef stock, in small amounts around the rim and over the top of the dish. As Judy says, for a very juicy, soft panade, add stock to the rim. For a firmer texture, fill to 1″ below the rim. Let it settle a minute, then add more stock if needed.
Put a piece of parchment paper over the top, then wrap the top and sides loosely with foil. You’ll want to put another piece of foil on the rack, under the dish to catch any drips that might happen. Bake for 1-1/2 to 2 hours until it’s bubbly and slightly rising. Turn the heat up to 375, remove the foil and parchment and continue baking for 20 minutes more, the top should be toasty brown. These times might need to be increased depending on your oven, and the baking dish you choose, and also the depth of your completed dish.
Notes: This can be made with swiss chard as a layer, she also says sorrel and tomatoes are wonderful as well. A texture caveat. If soggy bread makes you shudder, use the less stock version. The soft and juicy version is just that, soft. I made the firmer version, and the next time I make this, I’ll use even less stock, I think I’d like a firmer, almost bread pudding like texture.
Adapted from the fabulous Zuni Cafe Cookbook. Judy Rodgers rocks!