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Zuni onion chard panade, humble leftovers magnet

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On the heels of a very happy maiden voyage with the Zuni Mock Porchetta . . . and big thanks to this board for getting me further into the Zuni book . . .

I had a big piece of fontina-like cheese that was about to go past its prime, a bunch of chard threatening to turn to mush in the fridge, and a stale baguette -- and Zuni had a recipe.

The very versatile Panade -- which is sort of like Thanksgiving stuffing, but with cheese. I imagine it's a classic of stale bread usage in France and Italy.

In the version I made, you carmelize a pound or more of onions and some garlic, and layer that in a pan with cubed stale bread (moistened with olive oil and chicken broth), wilted ribbons of chard leaves, and cheese (fontina or gruyere recommended in the book)
Proportion was 10 oz of bread to 6 oz of cheese and 1 lb of chard.
You build up 2 or 3 layers, than pour 3 to 4 cups of hot chicken broth in at the edge of the dish, gradually, to let it absorb and check the level. Then you wrap it up and bake in a slow oven for an hour and a half - then open to brown the top in a hotter oven.

It was a terrific light meal with a spinach salad (Zuni recommends bitter greens) and a glass of red wine. The book of course has much more specific instructions.

Next time I'm going to put a load of fresh thyme in the mix. The primary seasoning of this is salt and pepper. The book has several seasonal versions.

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  1. thanks for your report back. i was just reading (and contemplating) that recipe this weekend. i think it's interesting that you said it was light--i imagined it to be pretty heavy. does the bread get really juicy/fluffy?

    2 Replies
    1. re: freddie

      well, it's light as a supper.
      Lots of chard and onion, no meat. We just had panade and salad.
      The bread soaks up the broth and puffs up -- it's certainly lighter than my thanksgiving stuffing.
      I did the *less* broth version (as opposed to more), it might be more soupy if you use the full four cups.

      The Zuni description of "satiny" is right on.

      I think it's such a brilliant simple idea, a savory bread pudding. And since there's no milk/cream involved it's not at all dense like sweet bread budding.

      We'll be frying up the leftovers as a patty (in olive oil) sometime soon.

      What else have you tried from Zuni? I just got the book . . .

      1. re: pitu

        just the much lauded roast chicken and bread salad. delicious. as others have said, double the bread salad.

        i think i'm going to do her artichokes next...

        overall, though, i'm enjoying reading and learning from the book at this point. i've picked up some useful tips that have enhanced and simplified my cooking, and i'm excited about that.

    2. I recently did something similar. This is zuppa Valpellinentze and is layers of bread with fontina, cabbage and pancetta then covered with stock adn baked. This recipe is traditional to the Val d'Aosta in Italy.

      Image: http://porkbelly.smugmug.com/photos/5...

      2 Replies
      1. re: Nathan P.

        And if your leftover soup is dry enough, you can slice the leftovers and fry them in butter! Sort of like a soggy but crispy grilled cheese sandwich with bacon and greens.

        Image: http://porkbelly.smugmug.com/photos/5...

        1. re: Nathan P.

          that is extremely similar -- great pix!

      2. Thanks for the reminder about this! I need to gather recipes that use stale bread.

        1. One of Alice Waters' recipes for panade includes winter squash, chanterelles, and onions all sauteed then layered with bread, with chx broth/red wine mixture, covered with swiss cheese, then baked. Tasty.