Parslied Bread Sauce with Poached Chicken

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

*This post is sponsored by Schwartz ~ thank you for supporting my brand partners, I only bring you companies I know and trust, and they help keep tvfgi up and cooking!

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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Parslied Bread Sauce with Poached Chicken

Yield: serves 4

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

  1. 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.
  2. Peel and halve the onion, and insert the cloves in the cut side of each half.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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.

https://theviewfromgreatisland.com/parslied-bread-sauce/

Parslied Bread Sauce with Poached Chicken 5

Not bad for my first Medieval sauce!

 

25 Comments

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

    Tried it, and it was fabulous !!

  • Reply
    Abbe@This 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!

  • Reply
    Christina
    April 30, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    Not bad at all, in fact bloody brilliant, I’d say! This is so intriguing to me and although I lived in Scotland and visit the UK quite often, I’ve never tried bread sauce. Will let you know when I do and thanks for the recipe (love the addition of parsley)!

  • Reply
    Cathy
    April 30, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    Love the clove-studded onion. Intriguing recipe- will give it a try!

  • Reply
    judith
    April 30, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    When I saw this I had to quickly ask my mother-in-law (originally from Derbyshire) about it but she was unfamiliar. Now that I have read through the post I am excited to look into medieval recipes as I did about ten years ago. I don’t recall my version of any of them seeming this fresh and appealing. I plan to quiz all my British friends and scrutinize the Christmas supper on Downton A.

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 30, 2014 at 8:02 pm

      Well, I have to warn you, most of them aren’t very fresh and appealing…just sayin’ ;)

  • Reply
    Claudia
    April 30, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    This is just so pretty spring-like. We have been on a spartan diet of lean protein and vegetables for … months. I am thinking a little bit of breadcrumbs cannot hurt…

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 30, 2014 at 5:52 pm

      :)

  • Reply
    sippitysup
    April 30, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    I guess I’m not as old as I thought I was. I don’t know that sauce. GREG

  • Reply
    Mary
    April 30, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Oh Sue! as a British girl I am SO happy to see some bread sauce here! it looks wonderful – we used to have this (or a version of it) every Sunday with the roast!
    Mary

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 30, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      You win the prize, Mary! You’re the only one who’s got a clue about this sauce :)

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    April 30, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Sue this is a beautiful dish. The photos absolutely draw me in and I want to know more! I’ve never heard of bread sauce but love it already. I adore poached chicken too. How fun you used to live outside London – lucky girl! Have a great weekend Sue.

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 30, 2014 at 1:10 pm

      If you google bread sauce images you’ll see that it isn’t particularly photogenic, so if I’ve managed to make it look even semi-appealing, I feel like I’ve done my job!

  • Reply
    clare
    April 30, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    I’ve never heard of this either! But that looks like a great combination–I can’t wait to try!

  • Reply
    Nancy Long
    April 30, 2014 at 10:20 am

    Yum, can’t wait to try this.

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 30, 2014 at 11:03 am

      Let me know what you think Nancy!

  • Reply
    Matt Robinson
    April 30, 2014 at 9:32 am

    I have to admit, I have never even heard of bread sauce. However, this looks absolutely amazing and even though it’s only 9:30 in the AM, I so wish I had this all on my plate right now. On my to-make list for sure. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 30, 2014 at 11:06 am

      I’m not surprised, nobody seems to have heard of it, even my British friends. It’s weird, since it’s been around for so long — talk about tried and true recipes!

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