2 bay leaves
freshly ground black pepper
1 whole nutmeg
700 ml whole milk
2 loaves ready-to-bake ciabatta
30 g butter
4 tablespoons double cream
Peel the onion, leaving it whole, then spike it with the cloves. Put the spiked onion into a medium saucepan with the bay leaves, milk and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Finely grate in a few scrapings of nutmeg.
Place the pan on a high heat and bring to the boil. Keep a close eye on it as milk comes to the boil very suddenly. Reduce to a low heat and simmer very gently for 5 minutes to let the flavours infuse. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile…
Cut the crusts off of the ciabatta loaves. Tear 1½ loaves into chunks and pulse them in a food processor until you have coarse breadcrumbs. Strain the milk through a sieve into a jug, discarding everything left behind in the sieve.
Return the milk to the pan and bring back to the boil over a high heat. Reduce to a medium heat and simmer, gradually stirring in the breadcrumbs until you've used them all up. Add the butter and cream to the pan, stir well, then have a taste and season with a little more salt and pepper if needed.
Have a look at the sauce – you want it to be the perfect consistency for you. If it's too runny, blitz the remaining ciabatta and add some more breadcrumbs, if it's a little thick, add more milk.
If you're making this for another day, you want the consistency to be a little looser than you'd like as it will thicken as it sits, so add a bit more milk. Otherwise, transfer to a jug and serve it now.
If you're making this for another day, when you're happy with the consistency, spoon the bread sauce into a bowl and leave it to cool. Once cool, cover the bowl with cling film and place in the fridge until Christmas Day.
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25m (plus infusing time)
BUYING SUSTAINABLY SOURCED FISH
Buying sustainably sourced fish means buying fish that has been caught without endangering the levels of fish stocks and with the protection of the environment in mind. Wild fish caught in areas where stocks are plentiful are sustainably sourced, as are farmed fish that are reared on farms proven to cause no harm to surrounding seas and shores.
When buying either wild or farmed fish, ask whether it is sustainably sourced. If you're unable to obtain this information, don't be afraid to shop elsewhere – only by shopping sustainably can we be sure that the fantastic selection of fish we enjoy today will be around for future generations.
For further information about sustainably sourced fish, please refer to the useful links below:
Marine Stewardship Council