A fine Christmas tradition in our house.
Bread Sauce
Bread Sauce
sauce veg
Ingredients
100g/4oz fresh white bread, breadcrumbed.
50g/2oz butter
½ pint/500ml milk
1 onion
couple blades mace
dozen peppercorns, cracked
2 bay leaves
1 cup double cream
1" horseradish root
Method
First make your bread. Or is that just me?
Crush the peppercorns slightly with the base of a sturdy saucepan, then sieve the peppercorns to discard any tiny shards which might disfigure the clean white sauce. Quarter the onions, and put them in a pot together with the mace, bay leaves and peppercorns. Cover with the milk and heat slowly until it reaches the barest simmer. Turn off and cover for ½-2 hours to infuse.
You can keep the milk refrigerated for days at this stage if you need to.
Strain the milk back into the pot, and add half the butter, half the cream and breadcrumbs. Simmer for about 15 minutes, whisking until the sauce thickens. Season. Add milk or cream if the sauce gets too thick.
You can prepare the sauce to this stage then set it aside. Reheat gently before serving.
Make a horseradish cream by finely grating the horseradish then blending this up with just enough milk, then add some of the remaining double cream. To make a nice piquant sauce.
Don't try blending the horseradish directly with the cream - it will thicken.
Just before serving, whisk in the remaining cream and butter and horseradish cream to taste.

Firstly I tried adding a few inches of peeled quartered horseradish root with the onion for the infusion and it was unpleasantly bitter. The milk seems to absorb none of the heat, but plenty of the bitterness of the root.

The horseradish cream method adds a lovely piquancy to the bread sauce. Be gentle - don't overwhelm the subtle bread and onion flavours, just add enough to enhance the taste without actually adding heat.

This sauce is much more subtle than Mum's version, but less texturally interesting and a bit more trouble to make.

Mum's Bread Sauce
sauce veg
Ingredients
Slices of buttered bread
chopped onion
milk
Method
Butter the slices of bread, cut them into pieces and mix with about the same volume of reasonably finely chopped onion.
Put the mixture into an oven-proof dish, and just cover with milk.
Season, and add a little cream and a grating of nutmeg if you like

Bake at the bottom of the oven when you roast your turkey, goose or ostrich, or at around Gas mark 4 for about an hour or two.
Stir occasionally.
This isn't too sensitive to exact cooking temperatures or times, just avoid letting it dry out or brown on top.
The sauce will swell as it cooks so be sure to leave some space in the dish.