Parslied Bread Sauce with Poached Chicken

Parslied Bread Sauce with Poached Chicken is classic comfort food with a British flair!

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Parslied Bread Sauce with Poached Chicken

Today I’m going off in a little bit of a different direction. This lovely spring dinner comes from across the pond, but it’s not the edgy British cuisine of Ottolenghi I’m drawing on this time. Bread sauce goes all the way back to medieval times, and it’s pretty much what it sounds like, a sauce thickened with bread! When Schwartz asked me to come up with a recipe, I have to admit I was a little hesitant. But as I looked into it, I got curious about  this sauce that’s survived so many centuries. And I have a soft spot for classic British comfort cooking since my husband and I spent a year after college renting a flat above a pub just a few tube stops outside of London. In that year I came to  appreciate all things buttered, creamed, boiled, mashed, pudding’d and pie’d. But I never did encounter bread sauce, so this is going to be an adventure…of the cozy and comfy sort.

Parslied Bread Sauce with Poached Chicken 2

So what exactly is it? Bread sauce is a delicately flavored milk sauce thickened with finely ground bread crumbs. It’s seasoned with an onion studded with whole cloves, whole peppercorns, and a sprinkling of nutmeg, or mace…are you starting to get the Medieval vibe? I messed with tradition just a little and added a bunch of parsley. With poached chicken and the first fava beans of the season, it’s a comforting, nourishing meal. Who knew?

Parslied Bread Sauce with Poached Chicken 3

When you cut the crusts off fresh bread and grind it in a food processor the crumbs are so light, they have the texture of fluffy couscous. I recommend using a soft white sandwich type bread for the lightest crumbs that will melt right into the sauce. As it cooks it turns thick like a custard or a pudding, and  I was pleased with the creamy texture of my sauce — the traditional version can be quite thick and lumpy. I make sure to finely grind my fresh bread, and to only add just enough crumbs to thicken the sauce.

Parslied Bread Sauce with Poached Chicken 4

I was surprised how much savory flavor the spices and onion imparted to the milk after just 30 minutes of infusing. For me this is the key to the sauce, the flavor is wonderful.

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5 from 2 votes

Parslied Bread Sauce with Poached Chicken

Author Sue Moran

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 white or yellow onion
  • 1 pint milk
  • 20 whole cloves
  • 5 whole peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • about 3/4 cup freshly made white breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream
  • salt and white pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves very finely minced

Instructions

  • To poach the chicken, put the breasts in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat, and let simmer gently for 3 minutes. Take off the heat, cover rightly, and let sit for 30 minutes. Then drain the chicken, and chill, or, if using right away, slice on the diagonal into several slices each.
  • Peel and halve the onion, and insert the cloves in the cut side of each half.
  • Put the milk in a saucepan along with the onion, peppercorns, and nutmeg. Bring the milk to a boil over medium heat, and then take off the heat and let sit, covered, for 30 minutes.
  • Strain the milk and put into a fresh saucepan. Turn on the heat to medium and reheat the sauce, stirring constantly, while adding the breadcrumbs. Stir or whisk until the sauce thickens and comes to a boil. The minute it is thick whisk in the butter, cream and parsley. Add salt and white pepper to taste, and serve right away.

Cook's notes

To make fresh breadcrumbs, cut the crusts off a few slices of white bread, and put them in a food processor. Process until you get fine, fluffy, crumbs.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although theviewfromgreatisland.com tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

Parslied Bread Sauce with Poached Chicken 5

Not bad for my first Medieval sauce!

 

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28 Comments

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  • Reply
    Angela McDarren
    September 17, 2020 at 10:29 am

    5 stars
    Hi Sue
    I make a load of your recipes regularly and love all of them. I’m surprised so many people have never heard of bread sauce. I’m originally from Wales ( love your Welsh Cake recipe ) and bread sauce was the norm with Christmas Dinner. After living in the wonderful USA for 43 years I still make bread sauce for Christmas Day Dinner and sometimes even for Thanksgiving. Thank you for all your wonderful recipes

  • Reply
    Gail Williams
    September 17, 2020 at 7:35 am

    I would assume that bread sauce could be made with gluten free bread. What would your advice be for a person trying this recipe from a gluten free perspective?

    • Reply
      Sue
      September 17, 2020 at 8:34 am

      I think fresh gluten free bread would make perfect breadcrumbs for this recipe Gail, I’d go with a white loaf if you can.

  • Reply
    John
    May 4, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Tried it, and it was fabulous !!

  • Reply
    [email protected] is How I Cook
    May 1, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    I’ve seen bread crumbs on pasta and in pasta. So why not this? It looks good and the flavor sounds right!

  • Reply
    rosita
    May 1, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    Esta forma de comer pollo me encantó rica salsa…..gracias por su comentario,abrazos

  • Reply
    dina
    May 1, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    I love creamy sauces. this looks great!

  • Reply
    Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    May 1, 2014 at 11:08 am

    I’ve never heard of bread sauce but I love this spring dish, great flavors!

  • Reply
    Barbara
    May 1, 2014 at 4:00 am

    Hi Sue! When we were doing Gourmet’s 50 Women Game Changers I came across a recipe for bread sauce while researching one of our British chefs. I was fascinated, but ended up choosing something else. So pleased to read about it here and see it done and served perfectly. British comfort food for certain. Your photos are lovely and so is that plate!

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 1, 2014 at 7:25 am

      Thanks so much, Barbara — I wonder if it was when we did Mrs. Beeton, I remember the fun I had going through those old recipes! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply
    TasteofBeirut
    April 30, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    Excellent and the photos are mouthwatering! Thickening sauces with breadcrumbs is done also in Lebanese cuisine, especially with a delicate fish sauce thickened with bread and pine nuts.

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 1, 2014 at 7:21 am

      The fish sauce sounds incredible, Joumana, I have to look that up, thanks for visiting!

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