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Pecorino Custard With Tomato Sauce

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“Adapted from a recipe in _Osteria_ by Rick Tramonto with Mary Goodbody, as reprinted by Michele Humes at Serious Eats. This hearty Italian _budino_ (pudding) is a great appetizer. It's essentially a bread pudding, but it's puréed before baking for a silky-smooth texture. You need a young Pecorino that's not too firm; an older cheese will turn grainy when it melts. The recipe calls for ciabatta bread, but any rustic, crusty white bread with an airy crumb will do (nothing too dense!). "Italian bread" is listed first to generate nutritional information - be sure to use ciabatta if you can find it.”

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 12 cups heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2 12 ounces Italian bread (about 2 1/2 slices) or 2 12 ounces ciabatta, crust removed and diced (about 2 1/2 slices)
  • 18 slices Italian bread or 18 slices ciabatta, each 1/2-inch thick
  • 14 ounces young pecorino romano cheese, shredded (by weight)
  • 14 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 12 cups marinara sauce
  • fresh ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F Spread the diced bread on a baking sheet and dry in the oven for 1 minute. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, warm the milk and cream over medium-high heat, until heated through but not boiling.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks. When they are blended, drizzle in about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture to temper the eggs, whisking continuously. Slowly add the tempered eggs to the hot cream in the pan as you continue to whisk the mixture.
  4. Increase the oven temperature to 325°F Pour the egg-cream mixture over the dried, diced bread to soak. Using a hand-held mixer or immersion blender, purée until smooth. Stir in the cheese.
  5. Divide the mixture evenly among 6 6-ounce ramekins. Put the ramekins in a roasting pan. Pull out the middle rack of the oven and set the roasting pan on it. Add enough water to the pan to come 1/2 inch up the sides of the pan. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and slide the rack back inches.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the custard is heated through and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Lay the bread slices on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Toast in the oven, turning once, for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown.
  8. Meanwhile, heat the marinara sauce in a saucepan over medium-high heat until hot and bubbling.
  9. Using tongs (wrap rubber bands around the tips to improve grip), transfer ramekins to a kitchen towel to dry. Place one ramekin on each of six serving plates and top each with about 1/4 cup of marinara sauce. Drizzle each ramekin with olive oil and pepper. Put three slices of toast on each plate and serve. (Turn off the oven and let the pan of hot water cool before removing it.).

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