Pearl onions are not particularly in season right now put it’s on the top of my list for winter vegetables. This time of the year is not much else going on since the soil on local fields is starting to freeze. You might know them pickled resurfacing in your dirty martini. I remember them from younger years as a young cook in France you could encounter them just about on every menu seeming like a default vegetable a few ones in a classic beef bourgiginone dish, stacked up artfully next to a roasted loup de mer fish dish , nestled into a vegetable casserole and so forth.
How to gratin
Since I have been in the Francophile mood for the last few days I created an onion gratin dish. Tiny pearl shaped onions which were naturally sweet like candy were the right fit. Well, the peeling step was painstakingly longwinded and defiantly needed patience but was balanced with a few simple recipe steps afterwards. * For starters a few pinches of cayenne and grape-seed oil with fresh bay leaf was all what was needed. I browned the onions on the stove top on low heat setting in a heavy skillet and shook it once every five minutes in this way the pearl onions did not burn and caramelized evenly - the natural sweetness of the onion was enhanced by doing so. A few dashes of aggressively acidic Champagne vinegar balanced that sweetness and gave the little balls a shiny glaze. I transferred the onions into an ovenproof dish and sprinkled with a special reserve Comte cheese over it. I had pre-heated my oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit were I melted the cheese over the onions – voila
(pearl onions from raw to done)
Comte cheese is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk. It is produced in the Franche-Comte region in France. I love the velvety nature of the cheese when melted and the sharp, nutty scent.
(pearl onions with cheese just before they're put in the oven)
Gratin & Co
I served the pearl onion gratin next to tender leafed, buttery, pale-green bibb lettuce dressed with a classic vinaigrette and croutons – doesn’t sound much of a meal but was a perfect fit for a light Sunday evening dinner with a lovely glass of red Bordeaux.
*There is a quick no-pain way of peeling the little suckers; bring water to boil and drop the unpeeled onions into it. Transfer the onions after 30 seconds with a slotted spoon to an ice water bath. Cut root-top from onions and squeeze on other end – this will pop the onion right out.