Monday, November 13, 2006

Thanksgiving Feast Favorites: Creamed Pearl Onions

I love this dish. It's a rich, tasty counterpoint to a perfectly roasted turkey. It will also make you feel like a jerk and a slacker for ever thinking about those bricks of salt and glue you used to thaw out and call food.

It's not very complicated. Like a lot of other very good dishes this one is made glorious by excellent ingredients and simple straightforward preparation. Get fussy about the stuff you put into it and you'll have some memorable stuff on the table.


3 lb white pearl onions
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (if you can find European style butter get that)
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt (be prepared to use less)
5 whole cloves
About 4 cups water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Blanch the onions in heavily salted water at a rolling boil for about two minutes. Drain, cool until you can handle them without flinching and peel them. (you can do this part ahead of time, just bag and refrigerate them)

Heat the butter in a large, heavy (cast iron rocks for this) skillet until the foam subsides, add the onions and sauté until tender and you start to see little flecks of golden brown. About eight minutes should do the trick. Add enough water to cover the onions, stir in the sugar and cloves, add in a little of the salt and simmer covered until the onion are tender but not falling apart (25-30 minutes). Taste and adjust the salt to suit yourself. Crank the flame up and boil uncovered until the liquid in the pan is reduced to about 1/2 cup. If you're worried about your kitchen backing up on the big day, you can halt this process at this stage too as long as you have it in an airtight container and it's kept refrigerated.

Pick out the cloves, and stir in the heavy cream. Simmer for about five minutes until the cream slightly thickens. Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste (remembering that if your family is anything like mine there are some real barbarians that will hose everything down with the salt and pepper before they even taste shit). Stir in the chopped parsley just before serving.

You can also make this entire dish the day before and heat it before serving in a double boiler.



Blogger pissed off patricia said...

Sounds good. What sounds better is that we are going to see family for National Eating Day (aka Thanksgiving) so I won't be doing any cooking at all. That's what I'll be thankful for. :)

7:13 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

if you want to amuse yourself imagine the cognitive dissonance that the indin side of the family has with this holiday. they're like "sure, what a great idea! let's all get together and celebrate the fact that a small, unprepared group of genocidal religious fundamentalist refugees were able, with indian help, survive on our shores so that they and their countrymen could destroy every single native culture."

still, the food's good.

9:02 AM  
Blogger pissed off patricia said...

Excellent point but I must believe all are a wee bit uncomfortable. Too bad the native Americans hadn't been more aware and more prepared for homeland security back then. This land would have been a lot better off today.

3:04 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i have a t-shirt that's printed by some clan cousins that they sell at pow-wows. it shows the old resistence leaders geronimo, nana, mangus coloradas and taza standing on the ridge line holding their rifles. the cut line reads

Homeland Security: Fighting Terrorism since 1842

there's another great one that has pictures of quanah parker, geronimo, sitting bull and chief joseph on the front where it says
Our Heroes, Your enemies

on the back it has Columbus, Father Serra, Custer, and Jackson
Our enemies, Your Heroes

but my favorite shows an Apache warrior standing over a body with a dripping knife in one hand and a dripping scalp in the other. underneath that it says

My heroes have always killed cowboys.

last time i was around willie nelson i was wearing it and he wanted to know how to get one.

4:19 PM  
Anonymous horsedooty said...


I used to have a customer that was a full blood Comanche. He use to say that the only reason he had his office where it was because historically there was a creek close by were the Comanche used to camp. When I would have to get my service order signed he would always point to a beer advertisement he had framed on the wall. It was a picture of Custer's Last Stand. Invariably he would say "now that was a good war". We always had a nice laugh but I have sorta wondered how much he believed that. His last name was Tonips.

yo soy Horsedooty!

4:49 PM  
Blogger Tata said...

Dude - I'm half Italian and part Wampanoag.

I'd protest me, but I make an excellent polenta.

10:07 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

Yeah, that's the eternal dilemma of the American mutt. We end up taking sides against ourselves. I'd protest me too m'dear, but I play a mean harp. Go Rutgers! (they have made me some serious football money this year)

10:33 AM  
Blogger Jersey Cynic said...

oh where have all the cowboy's gone?


MB - you remind me soooo much of my father. Pearl onions are his TG special -- makes them every year -- still

6:41 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

that's the main thing i do love about this holiday. the way certain family members take over the production of one special dish. a signature moment. the part i like the most is when the "specialty" really isn't all that loved or anyone's favorite, yet, when it is brought to the table the oohs and aaahhhhs are the same as they would be for a guest appearance by wolfgang puck.

8:14 AM  
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11:18 PM  

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