Onion sauce used to be a standard, served with gammon or thick bacon chops and often poultry. Come Christmas, no turkey dinner was complete without onion sauce. This easy onion sauce recipe also forms the basis for a bread sauce and so is extremely frugal.
This onion sauce recipe is very easy to make and it will keep for a couple of days in a fridge so can be made in advance for Christmas.
The other classic British sauce for Christmas and to serve with poultry and game is Bread Sauce.
The frugal cook can combine making both dishes, avoiding the wasted onion involved in making traditional bread sauce.
Ingredients for Onion Sauce Recipe
- 1 Onion
- 600ml Milk, preferably full-fat but semi-skimmed is OK. We use semi-skimmed plus some milk powder or cream if available.
- 10 to 20 whole cloves (depending if you like cloves)
- 6 whole black peppercorns (or add a ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper)
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1 good heaped teaspoon of Dijon mustard or shallow teaspoon of English mustard
- ¼ teaspoon Cayenne pepper
- Good pinch of salt
- 3 to 6 teaspoons of cornflour – depending how runny or thick you want the sauce
- 50 grams of fresh or frozen breadcrumbs (for the bread sauce)
- 4 tablespoons double cream (optional)
Method for the Onion Sauce Recipe
- Peel and chop the onion fairly finely. Place a good knob of butter in a saucepan and heat gently. Once melted add the chopped onion and stir well to cover. Leave on a low heat stirring occasionally for 10 to 20 minutes to soften the onions. These should be translucent and not browned.
- Add the peppercorns, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, salt and additional ground black pepper if you like. Add the milk and stir gently whilst heating until the milk starts to simmer, not boil – just bubble a bit. Switch the heat off and leave with the lid on for an hour.
- After an hour, re-heat to simmering and again switch off, leaving it with the lid on. This allows the flavours to infuse into the milk. Leave for another hour which should be time enough for the pan to cool down.
- Strain off the milk into a measuring jug and remove the cloves, peppercorns and bay leaves from the onions. Reserve the onions.
- Put 260ml of the milk into a saucepan and start heating gently. Put 80ml of the remaining milk into a cup and mix with the cornflour and add to the warming milk in the pan. Continue heating but keep stirring until the sauce thickens. If you stop stirring before it thickens it will go lumpy.
- I like this as a fairly thick sauce but if you would rather have it as a light pouring sauce, use the minimum of cornflour. If it is too runny, then just mix some more cornflour with a little milk and add to the main body, stirring briskly
- Add the reserved onions and mix well. It can now go into a dish covered with cling film in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. Prior to serving, after re-heating, add 2 tablespoons of double cream to make it very luxurious.
Onion Sauce Recipe without Bread Sauce
To just make onion sauce without the bread sauce, halve the amount of milk and cream and don’t include the cloves.
The remaining 260ml (½ pint) of is mixed with the breadcrumbs for the bread sauce which is covered in detail here: Bread Sauce Recipe.