As our temperatures drop again in Central Ohio and our days of The Elimination Diet loom closely on the horizon, I felt myself craving a soul-filling, belly-warming, deeply-flavored lunch. A panade uses bread, stock and filling to create an almost stew. This was surely meant to be.
While nothing is complicated about this dish, there is a significant time consideration. I should say that the time it took to prepare this dish didn’t feel like much of a hassle. Sure, caramelizing onions takes a long time, but it’s incredibly worth it. Baking a meal for 1 1/2-2 hours seems ridiculous. Until you taste this. Think of all the things you can do while your meal is in the oven! The active time is pretty limited, you only need to slice the onions and chard, mince garlic, and grate Gruyere cheese. While the onions are turning that lovely amber hue, you could be baking dessert, folding laundry, and cleaning out your cupboards all while occasionally stirring the pan. One this is thrown in the oven, you are free to use the baking time to finish any of the above mentioned tasks or sit down with a new novel and a cup of coffee. Or you could actually throw the ball for your poor, patient puppy. Wow, this meal is starting to sound better all the time.
The hardest part of making a panade? The smell filling your house for hours and being forced to wait to dive in.
This recipe has been mentioned many-a-time on the blog-o-sphere and is attributed to Judy Rodgers of the Zuni Cafe. I sliced 5 medium onions and cooked on medium heat with a good dose of olive oil until translucent. I then added half of a head of garlic and a good sprinkling of kosher salt and reduced the heat to medium-low. While the onions were slowly deepening in flavor, I turned on some jazz and chopped a bundle of swiss chard into ~1″ pieces. Next I chopped a half loaf of whole grain sourdough bread into 1″ pieces, drizzled with a few tablespoons of olive oil and 1/4c of homemade vegetable stock. Lastly, I grated ~1/2 lb of Gruyere cheese. When the onions were nearly ready, I wilted the swiss chard in a bit of oil quickly and heated up 3 3/4c of vegetable stock. Now, it’s time to layer.
I lined the bottom of a ceramic casserole dish with the onions and lined bread on top. Next is chard and a dousing of Gruyere cheese. I repeated this again two more times (3 layers total). Next, I added the stock slowly, allowing it to fill all the cracks and crevices and to absorb into the bread. I stopped when the stock was about 1/2″ below the fillings (3 1/2 cups total). I drizzled a bit of oil over the top, covered with parchment and foil and put in a 325 degree oven and set the timer for 1 1/2 hours. I ended up baking it for about 2 1/2 hours, removing the cover for the last 20 minutes and turning up the oven to 375.
There were happy customers in our house on this Sunday. Few words were spoken while eating, but there were sounds of contentment. That’s a good sign. With our bellies full, we mentally prepared for a night of Oscar-watching. The Philosopher takes his film-watching quite seriously and was hopeful that his picks would all win. We finished the evening watching the red carpet while eating pizza and drinking beer at our local theater with friends. What a great Sunday, huh?