Traditional bread sauce is one of the great, classic British sauces, but I think it has suffered from either not being made properly or – worst of all – being made from a mix or packet. The real thing is beautifully creamy and the perfect accompaniment to chicken or turkey.
This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Christmas and The Delia Collection: Chicken. It has also appeared in Sainsbury's Magazine (Guide to Poultry and Game Cookery).
4 oz (110 g) freshly made white breadcrumbs (a two-day-old white loaf with crusts removed will be hard enough to grate, but the best way to make the crumbs is in a liquidiser, if you have one)
1 large onion
15-18 whole cloves or freshly grated nutmeg
1 bay leaf
8 black peppercorns
1 pint (570 ml) breakfast milk
2 oz (50 g) butter
2 tablespoons double cream
salt and freshly milled black pepper
Cut the onion in half and stick the cloves in it – how many you use is a personal matter; I happen to like a pronounced flavour of clove.
If you don't like them at all, you can use some freshly grated nutmeg instead. Place the onion – studded with cloves – plus the bay leaf and the peppercorns, in a saucepan together with the milk. Add some salt then bring everything up to boiling point.
Take off the heat, cover the pan and leave in a warm place for the milk to infuse for two hours or more.When you're ready to make the sauce, remove the onion, bay leaf and peppercorns and keep them on one side.
Stir the breadcrumbs into the milk and add 1 oz (25 g) of the butter. Leave the saucepan on a very low heat, stirring now and then, until the crumbs have swollen and thickened the sauce – about 15 minutes.
Now replace the clove-studded onion, the bay leaf and the peppercorns and again leave the pan in a warm place until the sauce is needed.
Just before serving, remove the onion and spices.
Reheat gently then beat in the remaining butter and the cream and taste to check the seasoning.