On the train ride home Wednesday night I was on the phone with my brother. When we are chatting we tell each other tales of our cooking conquests, trying to one-up each other or inspire greater things. This time I wanted to make him jealous, I was going to make Mom-mom’s creamed onions. His response, “oh I made those the other day”. Well...damn. He mentioned he didn’t really like them and they were soupy. I asked him to walk me through the process so see if I could figure where he went wrong.
Turns out, I don’t make creamed onions like Mom-mom at all. I just associate the dish with her kitchen that they are automatically her creamed onions. Cam told me a horror story of boiling his frozen onions (when I told my aunt she said what I was thinking “who boils things anymore?”) and simply strained then added equal parts stock and heavy cream.
I needed to fix this, creamed onions are my favorite and I needed to share how I enjoy making them. And I love my brother to death because, in our true family dynamic fashion, he was riveted.
Kate’s Creamed Pearl Onions
1 Bag Frozen Pearl Onions
1 Tsp Garlic, Diced
8 Strips of Bacon, Chopped
1 Tbsp Flour
¾ C Whole Milk
¼ Tsp Paprika
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Yields 4 Servings
If you are using frozen onions remove from the freezer with enough time to thaw out, to speed up this process place bag in a bowl of warm water.
Like I stated above, who boils things anymore? I sauté these little onions, and obviously, I sauté them in bacon fat.
Begin by roughly chopping bacon on a plastic cutting board. Fry pieces in a medium saucepan until crispy. Since they are not strips you can’t easily turn them over after a few minutes, you will need to watch these small pieces a bit more closely to ensure they don’t burn. Keeping them moving occasionally.
Once the bacon is your perfect version of crispy remove from saucepan and place on a paper towel to catch extra drippings. Remove excess grease from the pot, leaving about 2 Tbsp of fat in the bottom.
Strain bag of frozen onions to get rid of all the water that gathered when the vegetables thawed, then pour onions into the saucepan. If you forget to strain the water (like I do sometimes) the onions will steam or boil depending on how much water is in the pot, instead of sauté. I have removed the onions with a slotted spoon when I noticed this and let the water cook out of the fat for a few minutes before returning onions to the pot.
Tip: You have the option of using frozen or fresh pearl onions. This is one of the instances that I will stick to frozen over fresh, fresh can be a pain! Both times I made these onions for that family I visited I was given fresh onions (both times!) and it was terrible. However, if you choose to go the fresh rout here is an easy way to peal: place onions in a pot of water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat immediately (we are not trying to cook the onions) and put in a cold water bath. Once cool enough to handle cut off the root and squeeze the tip of the onion, the whole thing should pop out of its skin.
After 3-5 minutes of cooking (frozen onions cook fast) sprinkle in 1 Tbsp of flour, stirring constantly with a spoon. We are creating a roux, the flour will toast in the fat and create a nutty aroma. This roux is our thickening agent to create a bechamel. Continue to stir for 5 minutes then slowly pour in milk. Keep it moving! We don’t want to form clumps in our sauce. We also want to pour in slowly, small batches at a time. It is much easier to thin it out then thicken it back up.
Sprinkle in spices and reduce to a simmer, the onions can stay on the stove on low heat until it is time to eat, but at least 10 minutes. As the sauce cooks it will thicken up slightly; if you wait too long to eat you may need to add an extra Tbsp of milk to thin out slightly.
When it is time to serve sprinkle with bacon and enjoy my favorite Thanksgiving side!