There are many variations on bread sauce; the only pitfall is the need to avoid curdling the milk if you decide to add whiskey, which is recommended. It is the classic English accompaniment to roast chicken and most other game birds, particularly grouse. It is an excellent sauce, a sort of slurried stuffing: Whoever said that “the whole point of roast chicken is bread sauce” was right. Our version is unconventional in keeping the onion in the sauce rather than removing it: We like the textural contrast that the onion gives the bread.
- an onion, peeled and minced
- 2 cups milk
- pinch of cayenne
- pinch of mace
- white pepper
- 2 slices of good white bread, decrusted and cubed
- 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 Tablespoon Bourbon or Scotch (optional but highly recommended).
- Place the onion in a small pot on low heat with the milk and simmer them for half an hour or more. You may need to add more milk if too much evaporates.
- Add the cayenne, mace and pepper to the pot, then stir in the bread. Once it falls apart and thickens the sauce, add the cream and butter, then simmer for another few minutes.
- Stir in the whiskey, heat the sauce through (but do not let it boil) and serve.
- Conventional recipes for bread sauce leave the onion whole and remove it before Step 2.
- Most recipes for bread sauce include nutmeg but the Editor does not like to add it.
- Some recipes for bread sauce include cloves. If you like, stud your whole onion with 2 or 3 of them or, if you prefer our version, throw the cloves into the milk at the beginning of Step 1--and remember to fish them out of the sauce before you serve it.
- Robin McDouall is typically decisive on the subject of cloves in bread sauce: "I hate cloves in most things and think they ruin bread sauce." ( Clubland Cooking , London 1974, 103)
- You can make the sauce in advance and heat it through to serve. It also is excellent cold with cold beef or lamb.
- We like the take of Mrs. Leyel and Miss Hartley on bread sauce:
“This is one of the sauces we make better in England than in France, for the French don’t make bread sauce at all--a great mistake on their part, for properly made it is excellent, not only with birds but with many kinds of fish.” The Gentle Art of Cookery 9 (London 1925)
- They use half a dozen cloves and add a step to their recipe: “The bread crumbs should be stale, dried in the oven and then pounded.” ( Gentle Art 9) Not necessary.