Bacon and Parmesan Bread Pudding

Recipe by Mary-Frances Heck

There is a time for low-fat, high-protein, super lean, mean, skinny salad machine, but brunch isn't it. Give those sugar-salt-fat receptors one last chance to jump for joy before you return to your healthy weekday routine with this decadent Parmesan bread pudding. Six perfect eggs, half a pound of beautiful crusty white bread, whole milk, and a some pleasantly bitter broccoli rabe--just to pretend it's healthy. An illusion quickly dispelled by a generous dusting of grated Parmesan and--the one thing that makes everything better--bacon. Well, technically pancetta, but you get the idea. --Marilyn He

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1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 medium bunch broccoli rabe (rapini), trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 pound country-style white bread, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
6 thin slices pancetta (Italian bacon)

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Preheat oven to 350°. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir until garlic is softened, about 30 seconds. Add broccoli rabe; sea-son with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, until wilted, about 2 minutes; let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, whisk eggs, milk, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoons pepper in a large bowl to blend. Add broccoli rabe mixture, bread, and 1/2 cup Parmesan; toss to combine. Transfer to a 1-1/2-qt. baking dish. Top with pancetta and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan.

Bake pudding until puffed, browned in spots, and set in the center, 45-55 minutes.

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