Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Christmas Food / Bread Sauce Recipe

Christmas food

Christmas is coming and, as December looms it's not just the goose that's getting fat! Part of me is dreading the time when it becomes acceptable to eat a mince pie because, when it comes to Christmas food, I have serious trouble holding back.
Food is, for me, the best thing about Christmas. Sure, presents are nice. A decorated tree is undoubtedly pretty. Hanging out with your family is fine until your mother-in-law's sherry-fuelled passive aggression kicks in and the kids fall out over a game of Buckaroo as their sugar levels plummet. The food never disappoints, if only for the comforting nostalgia it evokes.
I'm an absolute traditionalist when it comes to Christmas dinner. Salmon en croute and chocolate fondant is for Valentine's Day as far as I'm concerned. It has to be turkey with bread sauce, roast parsnips and chipolatas wrapped in bacon. Hell, Christmas day is the one day of the year that I will choke down a sprout or two. And the idea of anything other than Christmas pudding with brandy butter for dessert is unthinkable.

One of my favourite things at the Christmas table is my bread sauce. I make a very easy but extra tasty version that doesn't involve steeping onions studded with cloves in hot milk and finely grating breadcrumbs. Yawn. This is made all in one stage and is so much the better for that. Rustic, creamy and spicy, with this recipe I have converted the most hardened bread sauce dodger. It is also wonderful with roast beef if you replace the herbs and spices with a generous dollop of horseradish sauce.

Easy Bread Sauce

About 4 servings

Generous knob of butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
Large pinch of dried sage
Freshly grated nutmeg
A pinch of allspice
Freshly ground black pepper
White pepper
Milk – about half a pint
Bread – enough!
A splash of double cream, if you fancy it

1.    Melt the butter in a pan and gently sautee the onions with the bay leaf until soft and translucent. Add the herbs and spices and cook for another minute or so, until it smells really good.
2.    Add the milk and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat.
3.    Tear the bread into pieces and add to the hot milk. I pull the crusts off but the odd bit won't matter. For this amount I would use two or three slices of bread, depending on the bread itself and the consistency you want. I like it fairly thick.
4.    Return to the heat and stir until the bread has broken down. Add more bread if you would like it a little thicker.
5.    At this point you can either finish the sauce or leave it until you are ready to use it. To finish it off just pop it back on the heat, remove the bay leaf, add a splash of double cream if you like and check the seasoning, adding salt, pepper and any more of the herbs and spices as you wish.
6.    Tip into a bowl and serve!

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