This was inspired by a large batch of leftover cornbread that accidentally got left out overnight uncovered. Too stale to eat on its own, but it seemed a shame to waste it. This bread pudding was the happy result. The format is quite flexible - I considered several ingredient and flavoring options before deciding on this one, but I plan to try others next time I have leftover cornbread. You could even take it in a sweet direction, using berries, cinnamon and sugar and topping with whipped cream.
This takes some time to prepare and bake, though mostly unattended, so save it for a night (or brunch) when you have time.
4 eggs, beaten
2 1/2 cups milk
Approximately 8 cups cubed stale cornbread
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups corn kernels (thawed if frozen)
1 1/2 cups diced red pepper (thawed if frozen)
1 1/2 - 2 cups cooked black beans
1/4 cup chopped pickled hot peppers (or to taste)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
Combine the eggs and milk in a large bowl. Add the cornbread and soak for about 30 minutes, carefully stirring once or twice.
Once the cornbread has soaked up a lot of the egg and milk mixture, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add salt and pepper, corn, red pepper, black beans, and pickled hot peppers, along with half the shredded cheddar, to the cornbread mixture. Carefully mix, taking care not to turn the cornbread to mush.
Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. Pour the cornbread mixture into the pan and spread it out. Top with the remaining cheddar.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until cooked through. The pudding will remain soft in the middle but the egg should all be cooked.
Variations: Substitute 2-3 minced chipotles in adobo for the pickled hot peppers, or add chopped fresh cilantro and/or scallions with the vegetables.