creamed onions with bacon and chives

print now | return to original post

Creamed Pearl Onions with Bacon and Chives
Adapted from Thomas Keller’s mother

Because this is a Thomas Keller recipe, it originally called for 80 tiny onions, you know, so you can count them one by one. Because this Thomas Keller recipe has been adapted by Smitten Kitchen, I will tell you that 3 of those 10-ounce bags you can buy the fresh pearl onions in yielded 102 onions, and so I scaled the recipe accordingly below, to 125 percent, not because I enjoyed peeling tiny onions so much that I wanted to throw in 22 extra but because I knew the remaining onions would go otherwise unused, and that seemed wrong. I didn’t scale up the nutmeg or sherry, however, because I felt they were strong enough.

Remember how I went on and on about the cartouche (bless you!) (yeah, I’m 12) up there? Forget it. Skip it. It slowed things down too much. While waiting for the cream to reduce by half, the onions overcooked, some fell apart, and deposited too much water in the cream. (You might be able to tell from the photos.) I recommend below cooking them with a lid slightly ajar and when the onions are getting there, about 90 percent cooked through, remove the lid and reduce the cream by half. Plus, you won’t have to make French origami.

100 or so pearl onions, unpeeled (from 3 10-ounce bags)
2 1/2 ounces bacon (applewood-smoked is suggested), cut into a small dice
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons sherry
1/2 bunch chives, cut into 1/2-inch segments
Kosher salt, to taste (I used 1 teaspoon of Diamond Kosher salt)

Blanch the pearl onions for 3 minutes in a pot of boiling salted water. Drain, shock in a bath of ice water, and drain again. Peel the onions (making a slit with a paring knife down the side made this easiest for me), leaving a little of the root end intact.

[Want to use frozen, already peeled onions instead? I list some potential sources in the post.]

in a medium saucepan, cook the bacon until crisp, then remove it with a slotted spoon and drain it on paper towels. Leave only two tablespoons of the cooking fat in the pan, and add the pearl onions, heavy cream and nutmeg. Add salt to taste.

Cover the pot with a lid, leaving it a little ajar. Cook onions until they are nearly cooked through, about 90 percent of the way then remove the lid and finish cooking the onions while reducing the cream by half. Stir in the sherry.

If your onions are done cooking before the cream has sufficiently reduced or if you’re unsure about the alcohol in the sherry, remove the onions with a slotted spoon and transfer them to your serving dish. Continue cooking the remaining sauce to the desired consistency and taste and pour it back over the onions.

Garnish with bacon and chives and don’t forget to share.

creamed onions with bacon and chives was originally published on

all content and photos © 2006 - 2016 Smitten Kitchen LLC