- ½ loaf French bread, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 4 cups)
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 3 springs fresh thyme; remove leaves and leave them whole
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 1½ cups chicken stock, divided
- 2 cups whole cranberries (Fresh are preferred, but frozen whole cranberries are delicious during the off-season. If you use frozen, make sure they are completely thawed.)
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
Set oven to 400°.
Combine the bread, 4 teaspoons melted butter and thyme leaves in a bowl, and add salt and pepper to taste. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and toast until golden. Immediately remove from the oven and cool.
Once the bread is cool, put in a sealable container, and add 1 cup chicken stock. Seal the container and shake, making sure all the pieces are mixed up in the stock. Store in the refrigerator for at least a few hours or until the entire mixture has soaked up the stock. This can be done the day before.
Start the cranberry puree. In a saucepan, combine 1 tablespoon butter, cranberries and ½ cup chicken stock. Cook until the cranberries are soft and plump. You may need to lower the heat to medium to prevent the puree from burning.
Once your puree mixture is cooked, pour into a fine-mesh sieve held over another bowl. Using a plastic spatula, gently push the cranberries through the sieve. Since the mixture is thick, most of the puree will be stuck on the outside bottom of the sieve. Use your spatula to get the puree off the sieve and into the bowl. Continue to push the cranberries through until you notice there is no liquid left, and all that remains is pulp and skin.
Set the oven to 350°.
Wipe the original saucepan down with a paper towel, and return your cranberry puree to the pan. Add the sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, cinnamon and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir frequently, and cook until the butter is melted and the sugar is absorbed into the mixture. Remove from the heat.
Take the bread out of the refrigerator and stir it into the cranberry mixture. Use the plastic spatula to stir and lightly press into the bread, making sure the cranberry puree gets absorbed.
Add the cranberry mixture to 4 ramekins or a larger oven-safe bowl (extend your cooking time for the latter). Place in the oven for 40 minutes or until the top starts to get dark and crispy.