This much beloved sauce can be a terrible disappointment when served in hotels and restaurants and I’m afraid in many people’s houses. The French have never seen the point of it, though I have made a few converts. It couldn’t be simpler, the all important point being the flavouring of the milk, There is never enough sauce so make a lot. It is delicious served cold with the remains of a bird.
Peel the onion and stud it with the cloves. Place in a saucepan with the milk, butter and bayleaf. Bring to the boil and simmer on a low heat for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and let it steep all day to absorb the flavours. When nearly ready to serve, heat again, then add the breadcrumbs a few tablespoons at a time until you get the right consistency, remembering that they will swell. (I make the breadcrumbs in a food processor which is fast and easy.) Add the cream, season well with salt and pepper and finally with a good scraping of nutmeg. Remove the onion and bayleaf, transfer to a well warmed sauce-boat and serve with whatever you had in mind.
© 1998 Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright estate. All rights reserved.