"Pastrami on Rye" Bread Pudding

So, I hope you weren't looking for a light recipe to kick off the new year. A few of those are coming, but this definitely ain't it. 

Technically this might be a Reuben bread pudding, I think, but that just makes me think of Rubens the artist and then I think of the term "Rubenesque" and then I worry about having to spend money on new, larger pants if I eat to much of this and I'd really rather just enjoy it because it's delicious so I'm calling it "Pastrami on Rye" instead. 

Reading that paragraph of a sentence back to myself, I'm now thinking of a Rube Goldberg Machine, which means both that I remember way more of high school Physics than I ever thought I would and less of English grammar and also that I should stop playing word association games and talk about this bread pudding already.

First, if you've only ever had sweet bread puddings and you are wondering why I would ever stuff savory things like pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and rye bread into a custard, let me assure you that this is actually a really common thing to do, but usually people call it a strata instead. You can go ahead and call it that if you want. Second, if you are wondering what possessed me to stuff these particular foods together into a custard, let me also assure you that even though it sounds weird, it's actually tasty and pretty much the exact flavor profile of a Reuben sandwich, plus another couple hundred calories. Third, if you are thinking that it's January and no one wants another couple hundred calories added to a food that's already an ill-advised part of any healthy diet, well I don't have any more assurances for you because I actually ate it in December when calories didn't count. My bad.

Pastrami Reuben Bread pudding.jpg

Finally, let me be honest with you. I know this bread pudding sounds crazy weird, and I only made it because the idea popped into my head ages ago and I  couldn't stop wanting to make it, even though I was only 50% sure it would be something worth eating, much less sharing. And once I made it, I took a complete round trip journey from loving it to hating back to being sad when I finished it.  

Pastrami on Rye Bread Pudding.jpg

I may continue to eat my Reubens in sandwich form instead of bread pudding, but I'm definitely glad I tried this, because although it might not be for everyone it was definitely for me. Maybe.

"Pastrami on Rye" Bread Pudding


3-4 oz sliced pastrami, roughly chopped
4 oz swiss cheese, diced small or shredded
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 c. sauerkraut, drained well
4-5 slices rye or pumpernickle bread, cubed or shredded into large chunks
4 eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 tbs. whole grain mustard
Russian dressing (optional, for garnish)

  1. Leave bread out overnight to stale or dry out in a 225 degree oven for 20-30 minutes.
  2. When ready to make bread pudding, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Over medium heat, saute onions in a little olive oil unit soft, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, toss together pastrami, cheese, onion, sauerkraut, and bread, then spoon mixture into a buttered loaf pan or 8x8 baking dish. 
  5. In the same bowl, whisk eggs, mustard, and milk together and pour over the filling in the pan. Let sit at least 15 minutes, and press the mixture down to make sure the custard is completely soaked in.
  6. Bake for about an hour, until golden and bubbly and filling is set.
  7. Serve hot and drizzle with Russian dressing, if desired.