Many years ago, when I first started cooking a big Thanksgiving meal, I followed the suggested menu of some magazine or cookbook to the letter, despite existing family traditions or personal preferences. One of the dishes on the list of traditional Thanksgiving fare was creamed onions, which I had never had before. My family had never had them either and didn’t really understand why I had included them on the buffet with all the other food. Everyone tried them, and liked them, but focused more on the dishes standard to our feast. I liked them, and made the recipe a few times to accompany beef roasts. But it fell from the Thanksgiving roster in favor of more traditional Southern fare.
Last year was a transitional Thanksgiving for my family, working to develop new traditions during a time of change. Change of location, new people at the table and some new recipes. Fortunately, we had some distant family relatives from New England in town with recently relocated children. They brought a delicious dish of Brussels sprouts that they always have on their Thanksgiving table at home. We’ve never included Brussels sprouts at Thanksgiving, its mostly green beans. But they were really happy to see the creamed onions – a throwback from their Eastern childhood. And there were no leftovers.
It was a really nice meal, sharing our family traditions. I can’t say for sure if creamed onion are a purely regional specialty for the holiday, but it is not a tradition on the tables of any of my Southern friends. I have streamlined and jazzed up that original creamed onion recipe, and it makes a lovely accompaniment to the centerpiece turkey.
One reason I chose to make this last year is that I found some beautiful multi-colored pearl onions at the grocery that I couldn’t resist. All white onions are perfectly good if that’s what you find.
Mustard creamed pearl onions
2 cups pearl onions (white, yellow, purple or a combination)
1-/12 cups light – colored chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1-1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1. Cut the tops and roots off the onion. Try to leave a little of the root end intact to hold the onion together. Drop the onions into a pan of boiling water for 45 seconds. Drain the onions, and when cool enough to handle, slip off the skins. This can be done up to 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
2. Put the onions and the broth and the wine in a medium sauté pan and sprinkle over the sugar and salt. Stir to combine. Bring the broth to a boil over medium high heat and cook until all the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally. When the liquid is gone, pour in the cream and add the mustard. Stir and cook over medium until the cream is reduced and thickened and coating the onions.
3. Serve immediately.
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