Herb and Apple Stuffing Bread Pudding

8 cup(s) bread, such as country boule, crusts removed, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
¼ cup (½ stick) butter
3 oz. pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups (about 1 large) chopped onion
3 large stalks celery, chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
½ cup medium or dry sherry
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
Kosher salt
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
5 extra-large eggs
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup chicken stock or broth
2 cups (8 ounces) freshly grated Gruyère or Swiss cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Arrange bread in single layer on 18-inch by 12-inch jelly-roll pan. Bake 20 minutes or until lightly browned; set aside.
  2. While bread toasts, heat butter in 12-inch skillet on medium-low. Add pancetta; increase heat to medium and cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add onion, celery, and apple; cook 8 to 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in sherry, rosemary, 4 teaspoons salt, and 1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper. Cook 5 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat; stir in parsley.
  5. In very large bowl, beat eggs, cream, chicken stock, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyère. Add bread, then vegetable/apple mixture, stirring until well combined. Let stand 30 minutes to allow bread to soak up liquid.
  6. Stir mixture well; transfer to 2 1/2- to 3-quart (13” by 9”) baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining Gruyère. (To make ahead, assemble bread pudding, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate up to 1 day before baking.)
  7. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until top is browned and custard is set (when knife inserted in center comes out clean). Serve hot or warm.

(from Good Housekeeping)