Savory Stuffed French Toast

Need a great Christmas Day brunch recipe?! This French Toast is perfect for that salty-sweet fix. The savory stuffed french toast is jam-packed with ham, swiss, scallions, and cooked in a slightly sweet custard.

Savory Stuffed French Toast

  • 1 loaf French bread, cut into 2-inch thick slices
  • 8 ounces ham
  • 4 ounces Swiss cheese
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter, for cooking
  • Maple syrup, for serving

Directions:

Chop ham into small cubes. In a medium skillet over medium heat, add ham and cook until it’s browned in spots, just a few minutes.

Let ham cool slightly and then stir together with grated cheese and scallions.

Whisk together milk, eggs, and cinnamon with a pinch of salt in a square baking dish.

Cut your French bread into large 2-inch slices. Using a serrated steak knife, cut each piece of bread down the middle, being careful not to cut entirely through the bread. Use the knife and your fingers to make a pocket in the bread.

Stuff each piece of bread with the ham and cheese mixture. Try to be careful not to tear through the bread, but you can also use a heavy hand on the stuffing. The bread can hold it.

After you’ve stuffed all the pieces, heat a griddle over medium heat.

Dunk the pieces of bread, one at a time, in the milk and egg mixture. Leave it in for a few seconds on each side so it absorbs the mixture. Don’t leave them in so long that they get soggy though.

Melt butter on griddle and add stuffed french toast pieces. Cook for about 4-5 minutes per side until the toast is golden brown. Err on the side of cooking them for longer over lower heat. Also, be sure to stand the toast up on the two long ends for a few minutes also to really sear the French toast on all sides.

I like to cut each piece in half after it cooks to show off the stuffing and also make it easier to eat.

Serve stuffed french toast with syrup!

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Deep Dish Pizza

Deep Dish Pizza 


Photo Credit: Lydia’s Kitchen 

One could call this dish pizza bread, and it is a cross between a focaccia and a pizza. This my favorite types of pizza.

For the Dough:

  • ½ teaspoon sugar 
  • 1 (2 1/4 tsp) Packet Instant Dry Yeast
  • 3 ½ cups All-Purpose Flour + more for kneading
  • ½ cup fine Cornmeal
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • ¼ cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, + more for bowl and pan

For the Topping: 

  • 4 ounces provolone, sliced
  • 4 ounces mozzarella, sliced
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
  • 2 ounces pepperoni, sliced
  • 1/2 cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Note: you could use any toppings you would like. 

For the Dough:

  1. Pour 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm (90 to 110 degrees F) water into a bowl, then stir in the sugar and yeast. Let sit until the yeast begins to bubble, about 5 minutes.
  2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, cornmeal, and salt on low to combine while still mixing. 
  3. Once the dough comes together, switch to the dough hook, and knead on medium-high speed to make a smooth dough, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add a little more water or flour as needed to make a soft dough. 
  4. Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in size, from 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours.

Pizza:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Punch down the dough, and press it into a 14-by-10-inch oiled baking pan or an 12-inch cast-iron skillet, gently pressing the dough up the sides to make a shell.
  3. Fill the shell with an even layer of the provolone and mozzarella, then spread the sauce to cover the cheese completely. Top with the pepperoni, and sprinkle with the grated cheese and oregano. 
  4. Cover with foil, and bake 45 minutes. Then uncover, and bake until the crust is deep golden brown and the pizza is bubbly, about 20 minutes more. Let sit about 5 to 10 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.

Iron Range Porketta

Iron Range Porketta

Now you ask, what is Porketta? Porketta is a traditional seasoned meat from the Iron Range in Minnesota. It’s savory, fatty, and a moist boneless pork roast of Italian culinary tradition. The body of the pig is gutted, deboned, arranged carefully with layers of stuffing, meat, fat, and skin, then rolled, spitted, and roasted, traditionally over wood. Porketta is usually heavily salted in addition to being stuffed with garlic, rosemary, fennel, or other herbs. Evidently, if Porketta is done correctly the outside skin is crunchy and flavorful, and the inside melts in your mouth, providing an outer body experience as the garlic, rosemary, sage, and fennel explode in your mouth.  

Things I’ve learned so far when preparing and cooking a proper Porketta…

Use a Pork Shoulder Roast.

Have the Roast taken off the bone and cut so it lays flat.

There are some great Porketta recipes in various cookbooks; but my favorite is…

  • 3-4 lb. Pork Butt/Shoulder
  • ½ T. Salt
  • 2 T. Smoked Paprika
  • 2 T. Onion Powder
  • 2 T. Italian Seasoning
  • 1 T. Sugar
  • 12 Peeled Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • ⅓ cup Fresh Fennel greens, chopped
  • 2 T. Fresh Fennel Bulb,chopped 

Butterfly Pork Roast by making a vertical slice and then slicing on the left and the right bottom sides to open up roast. (If your not comfortable with butterflying ask your butcher to do it for you.) In a bowl combine salt, paprika, onion powder, Italian seasoning and sugar. Rub on all sides of the pork. Stuff pork with chopped garlic, fennel greens and fennel bulb. Then tuck up roast and tie with kitchen twine.

If you can get a Roast with the skin on do so. If not, usually you can buy the skin separately. Once the Roast is rolled you can use toothpicks to adhere the skin to the Roast or you can tie it on with butchers twine.

Sear the Roast in the oven at 450° for thirty minutes.

Place the Roast on a ceramic grill such as a Big Green Egg or in a smoker and cook it at about 300° F for several hours until a meat thermometer reads 180° when inserted into the thickest point of the roast.

Let the Roast rest for 30 minutes, slice.

Making a really good Porketta takes a bit of time and effort; however, you will be richly rewarded. So, the next time you have a long rainy weekend and you are looking for something worthwhile, fun and delightfully delicious to do, this might just be it.

Enjoy! 

NOTE: If you’re ever in Iron Range near Nashwauk, Minnesota pick up a delicious pre-seasoned Porketta roast at Fred’s grocery store. It’s delicious!