|ham cheese and bread sauce souffle ( recipe below)|
As the silver Rolls Royce of comedy, Victoria Wood once said "foreplay is like beefburgers- three minutes each side".Food is the new sex and bread is its lingerie.Its the foreplay of the whole meal. The lingerie has to be removed during foreplay.So how is it that the sauciest of sauces, "bread sauce" ,only graces our tables at the one sexiest meal of the year?
Bread sauce is one of the last remnants of a whole class of bread-based dishes that have largely vanished from British cooking. As it turns out the sauce has been passed down through the generations for a good 500 years. It's actually a culinary relic of the Middle Ages, one of the few remaining examples of the bread-thickened sauces, stews and soups that were once served at Christmas feasts, and other celebration dinners, across medieval Europe.Where today we would reach for a bag of flour to thicken a stew or make a sauce, a medieval cook would throw in yesterday's loaf instead.
The Italians have ribollita— made with stale bread, beans and kale.
A hearty bowl of french onion soup
The French have soupe à l'oignon and the Portuguese have açorda. All are bread-based soups, and all can be fine things for those of us who happen to enjoy eating soggy bread.Getting closer, the Turks have tarator and the Spaniards have Romesco — made with tomatoes, bread and ground almonds or hazelnuts. But for sheer soulful comfort, none can match the starchy wonder of our own bread sauce. Outside of Christmas, and certainly outside of the U.K., bread sauce is largely unknown.
"The idea of bread sauce remains intensely baffling, possibly even disgusting, to any person who hasn't been brought up with British traditions," writes British cookery writer Nigella Lawson, who includes it in her collection of Christmas recipes. She, too, feels that it should be an indispensable part of Christmas. "I regard bread sauce as not only my legacy from my mother," she writes, "but as every Briton's sacred and stodgy inheritance."
To me, like the domestic deity she is, just the smell of the milk infusing on the stove, giving off that familiar scent of onion, mace, bay and clove, tells me it is Christmas.I learned my version of bread sauce from my mother.It's the one Christmas dish I still can't live without. Not only does it transport me straight back to the Christmases of my childhood, its strange, sloppy texture and comforting spices have the magical ability to make everything on the Christmas dinner plate taste better. It bumps up the Brussels sprouts,tempers the acidity of the cranberries and transforms every slice of turkey, however overcooked and dry, into a succulent, flavoursome mouthful.
Unlike cranberry sauce, which is fine with turkey but rather strident if you accidentally get some on a Brussels sprout, bread sauce goes with everything. Sausage, Stuffing, Parsnips. Sometimes I think I could dispense with the rest of the meal and just eat a big bowl of bread sauce, roast potatoes and gravy.funny i should say that because Nigel Slater did just that.He dispensed with the turkey and turned left over chipolatas and bread sauce into a hearty midweek post Christmas supper.My left over bread sauce supper was
adapted from a delicious magazine recipe
makes 4 250ml ramekins or 1 litre souffle dish
50g unsalted butter, plus extra melted butter for greasing
Handful fine white breadcrumbs
60g leftover ham, finely shredded
40g plain flour
300ml whole milk
Good pinch cayenne pepper
Grated fresh nutmeg
4 large free-range eggs, separated
150g leftover bread sauce
100g parmesan or cheddar, grated
You will also need
Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6 with a baking sheet inside. Brush 4 x 250ml ramekins with melted butter, sprinkle with breadcrumbs, then divide the ham and chestnuts among them.Melt the 50g butter in a pan over a low-medium heat, add the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Gradually add the milk, stirring, then bring to the boil. Boil, whisking all the time, for 2 minutes or until very thick.
Off the heat, stir in the spices and egg yolks. Season and stir in the bread sauce and cheese.
In a bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Mix a little into the sauce, then gently fold in the rest. Fill the ramekins almost to the top, then run a finger around the rims to help them rise.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and well risen, then serve straightaway with a salad.