Purple-sprouting broccoli is one of my favourite seasonable vegetables, and it’s just as well that it’s seasonal, ‘cos if it was available year-round I’d eat it with this sauce more often, and would consequently be the size of a house. As I’ve mentioned previously on my post about Blue Vinny tart, this sauce is the lovechild of two early River Cottage recipes to accompany sprouting broccoli – crème fraiche with honey and thyme, and hot blue cheese & bacon. It really is divine, and as well as turning a plate of broccoli into a substantial lunch or supper, it is delicious tossed through pasta (with or without the broccoli!).
Originally devised with Dorset Blue Vinny, this sauce is just as good when made with a good Stilton, or even some Shropshire blue (though the colour will be rather different!). If you want to make this dish vegetarian it still tastes yummy without the bacon, but bear in mind that many blue cheeses (the good ones anyway) are made with rennet, which is an animal product – you may need to shop around a bit to find one without it.
Hot blue cheese sauce with bacon, honey & thyme
NB. This sauce isn’t what you’d call low-fat and it’s not meant to be. Don’t be tempted to use low-fat crème fraiche, as heating the sauce high enough to melt the cheese can cause reduced fat products to split and go grainy.
3 rashers smoked streaky bacon
1½ tbsp thyme leaves, finely chopped
2 tsp honey
300ml crème fraiche
100g blue cheese, crumbled
Finely dice the bacon and fry it in a small saucepan with a little olive oil for a minute or two until just cooked but not yet crisp. Add the chopped thyme and honey, stir well and fry for another minute or two until the bacon is crispy and the herby aromas are released.
Stir in the crème fraiche (be careful – it may splutter!) and heat through gently before stirring in the blue cheese. Keep stirring on a low heat until the cheese has melted into a lovely smooth creamy sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary (some blue cheeses are saltier than others, it may need none), serve immediately. The sauce thickens quickly as it cools, but thins out again if reheated gently and whisked.
Makes enough for four people to dunk a generous portion of sprouting broccoli, or to coat pasta for six.