So, let's dispense with the cranberry sauce first, because it's a piece of cake. There are more complicated recipes you can use, but this one is just fine and takes about ten seconds.
100ml fresh orange juice
100g light brown sugar
1 Put the sugar and the orange juice in a pan and bring to a bubble. Tip in the cranberries and simmer for about 8 minutes - until some of the cranberries are still round and the rest have burst open and are all gooey.
Decant this into an airtight container, chuck it somewhere cool and forget about it until Christmas. The sauce will thicken on cooling so don't worry if it looks a bit runny.
I was all ready to make a similarly simple bread sauce but my friend Henry forced upon me a complicated one from his mother. As he was coming to dinner and gave me a magazine that the recipe was printed in I felt like I really couldn't not make it.
As it turns out, it is absolutely amazing. You could just eat it, on its own, spooned out of the tin. So I really recommend it, despite it being a bit of a faff. Do it up to three days ahead of time.
Aromatic brown bread sauce
1 large onion
150g wholemeal bread, crusts on
4 cardamom pods
salt and pepper
900ml milk - whole or semi
300ml double cream yikes
Preheat your oven to 130C. Did you notice that said 130C and not 180C?
1 Chop your onion up VERY small. I chopped mine up normally and it was too big, so next time I do this I will chop it up normall and then go at those chunks with a knife to bash the bits up tiny. Do not be tempted to put it in the food processor as you don't want it a sludge.
2 Tear the bread into small pieces - about the size of a 50p coin and put in an ovenproof dish with the onion
3 Put the cloves and the cardamom into a small piece of muslin or cotton, tie with string and chuck into the dish. This is an annoying instruction and I'm not sure you couldn't just throw the pods and cloves in free and then fish them out later.
4 Grate over a generous sprinkling of nutmeg, salt and pepper and dot with butter. Mix the milk and the cream together and pour over the bread and onion. Cover tightly with foil or a lid and then cook for 2 hours(!). Stir once or twice during cooking.
Really worth doing if you can be arsed. Everyone said how nice it was at our practice dinner, even a French girl who is normally rude about everything. Henry said it was a pretty good imitation of his mother's sauce but then ruined it by asking if my stuffing was out of a packet.