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Tipsy Cheesy Bread

Last week, I read a wall post trail on Facebook where some friends of mine were discussing restaurants in proximity to the SXSW conference. The dish “drunken cheese bread” from Max’s Wine Bar came up several times — punctuated with exclamation marks and exuberant superlatives of love — along with similarly enthusiastic references to a restaurant named “Moonshine.”

I’m not sure, but I think the fine people of Austin, Texas like their booze.

Or maybe it’s just my friends.

Either way, my curiosity was piqued. The combination of cheese and bread baked in wine sounded like a winner to me.

A quick googling revealed a popular recipe from Real Simple magazine. Gruyère? Lots of Gruyère? This cheese lovin’ girl says, yes, please.

Always one to fiddle, I replaced onions with shallots, and ham with prosciutto. And then threw in some fresh thyme, because fresh thyme is always a good idea.

Prepared as individual servings, it was the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of soup. And surprisingly, not as heavy as a half pound of cheese would lead you to believe.

Along with the other liberties I took with the original recipe, I also chose to replace the clumsy frat word “drunken” with the slightly more delicate “tipsy” in the recipe’s title. I would totally serve this at a dinner party, where it is gauche to be drunken but perfectly charming to be tipsy.

Tipsy Cheesy Bread

adapted liberally from Real Simple [1] magazine

butter, for the serving dish
1/2 French baguette (or 1 batard), cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large shallot (or 2 small), thinly sliced
1/8 pound very thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
1 cup white wine (I used Barefoot Chardonnay)
1 1/2 to 2 cups (6 – 8 ounces) grated Gruyère
1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves removed, stem discarded
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

This recipe can be made in four individual 16 oz. serving bowls or one 2-quart baking dish. Serves 4.

1. Preheat oven to 400° F.

2. Butter the sides and bottom of the baking dish(es). Add the bread cubes, then scatter the shallots and prosciutto on top. Toss lightly to mix the layers of ingredients.

3. Pour the wine over the bread, shallots and ham, going slowly to allow the wine to soak into the bread rather than pool on the bottom of the dish. Top with the grated Gruyere, and sprinkle the thyme and pepper.

4. Bake until the cheese melts and begins to brown, about 15-20 minutes.

5. Leftovers hold up quite well, should there be any — reheat in preheated 350° F oven until cheese is melted.