So last week was Thanksgiving here in the USA and every year there are always new recipes intending to “update” or “modernize” old classics. That’s all fine and well but after last week’s dinner it has occurred to me most people really like the old school dishes which they grew up with and nothing will ever replace them. This creamed onion recipe from my mom’s recipe book is just one of those dishes.
This year my dad and his girlfriend came to Chicago for Thanksgiving and when I told him we were having creamed onions he was pretty excited since he hadn’t had them in years (or the green bean casserole Cheryl made). I think this was a good Thanksgiving dinner for him since it had all the stuff he grew up on: his mom’s sausage stuffing, green bean casserole with the fried onions, and the creamed onions. It’s funny in a way because these three dishes are only made once every year, you don’t have them every week like some foods. Maybe that’s why they’re so loved and these oldies keep getting rolled out year after year. If Christmas is the holiday where people get all sentimental about family, Thanksgiving is the one where we get all sentimental about the food.
You’d think this is a very complicated recipe but it isn’t. I spent more time trimming the onions than actually standing at the stove. Once you get the onions prepped it’s basically simmer the onions, make a roux, add liquid, then bake in the oven. I think the sauce really makes the dish. The only real attention you need to give the dish is to not to over-simmer the onions and make them so soft they fall apart. They need to keep their shape. I used the smallish white boiling onions in this recipe but if you wanted to use small pearl onions I suppose you could, you’ll just have to adjust your cooking times since the times in this recipe are for the boiling onions. One final note: Yes, Cheryl was extremely skeptical about a dish made of onions, but in the end I think she was won over by the cream sauce and was pleasantly surprised.
- 3 lbs small white boiling onions; peeled, tops and bottom trimmed
- 2-3 C chicken stock (see below)
- 3 Tbs butter
- 6 Tbs flour
- 1 C half & half
- ¼ C dry sherry (I didn’t have any sherry so I used dry vermouth, good substitute)
- White pepper
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 2 Tbs chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Place your trimmed onions in a large saucepan and add the stock. Make sure the onions are covered with stock, use 3 C if necessary. Bring to a boil over med-high heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the onions are just tender.
Strain the onions in a colander reserving the stock. Set aside the onions. Return 2 C of stock to the sauce pan and bring to low simmer.
In a small frying pan make your roux. Melt the butter over medium heat and whisk in your flour. Do not let the roux brown. Add the roux to the simmering stock and whisk until smooth and thickened.
Stir in the half & half and sherry, simmer for 2 minutes.
Add salt and white pepper to taste. Stir in the nutmeg and parsley.
Combine the onions and sauce and pour into a round casserole bowl or baking dish.
Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes.