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Tracy Briggs, Published December 25 2013

The Great Indoors: A Boxing Day treat for the Brit in you

The British got this one right. While many Americans are forced to head back to work today still suffering from Christmas cookie hangovers and the nagging guilt of “why did I spend so much money this year?” the entire United Kingdom (and parts of Canada) have another day off. Ah, why did we ever declare our independence? It’s Boxing Day.

Debates rage about the origin of the holiday. Some say it started because Dec. 26 was the day the wealthy gave their servants boxed gifts as a thank-you for a year’s service. Others say Boxing Day was so named because people would leave boxes of charitable goods on church doorsteps on Christmas Day to be opened the next.

The origin of Boxing Day might be one of the great mysteries of the United Kingdom (just behind the Queen’s weird attachment to her purse) but whatever the origin, it’s basically “Christmas – Day 2.”

Since I paid so much attention in the past few weeks to both German and Norwegian Christmas, I decided we’d celebrate Boxing Day by whipping up something a Brit would eat this time of year.

I went into the challenge a little apprehensively. A few years ago, my sister and I decided to celebrate our family’s English/Irish/Scottish heritage by making a traditional British Christmas feast. It was super time intensive and, frankly, not worth the effort. (We’re talking about a Christmas cake that took about eight hours to make. Yeah, no thanks. I’m too impatient a Pillsbury-Duncan Hines-Betty Crocker cake mix loving American for that.)

But then I stumbled upon a British recipe we didn’t try that Christmas – one I had never heard of before: Bread Sauce.

Several things about Bread Sauce appealed to me:

1. Bread. Who doesn’t like bread? Check.

2. It’s easy to make. Check.

3. It’s used to moisten up those Christmas leftovers. Check.

I went online and found many recipes for making the gravy-like sauce. The biggest variation seemed to be in how many cloves you put into the onion. One cook called for 16 cloves – something another British chef called “Absolutely barking mad!” (Can I just have a British accent for one day, please?)

Mr. “Barking Mad” called for just one clove. I basically split the difference and used 6. I also seasoned the bread sauce with a bay leaf, but left out the thyme and nutmeg other recipes called for. I kept it simple. When it was all said and done, it was pretty (or how about “barking”) good? Imagine a sauce that tastes like stuffing.

Watch ‘The Great Indoors’ with Tracy Briggs every Thursday on www.InforumTV.com

British Bread Sauce


1¼ cup whole milk

½ cup heavy cream

1 onion, peeled and studded with 6 cloves

1 bay leaf

¾ cup bread crumbs

2 Tbsp. butter


Place the milk, cream, onion and bay leaf in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn the heat off and let it stand for at least 10 minutes.

Remove the onion and bay leaf. Add the bread crumbs and butter. Stir until smooth. Season with salt and black pepper.

Serve hot over turkey or pork.