Braised onions are the side of choice with beef Bourguignon but they are also wonderful with roast beef and other stews. Trader Joe’s sells a pack of multi-colored pearl onions that cook up beautifully as braised onions. The catch? You have to peel them, which requires blanching first, then cutting off the ends so you can slip off the peels. You can of course skip this first step by using pre-peeled frozen pearl onions. I can tell you that if you do choose the blanche and peel approach, it is well worth it. These onions are delicious.
You can prepare braised pearl onions two ways – “brown braised” in which the onions are first sautéed in butter to brown, or “white braised”, in which the onions are simply braised then cream is often added and reduced.
- 1 pound pearl onions, about 1 inch in diameter
- Chicken stock or water (or vegetable stock for vegetarian option)
- Salt and pepper
- Sugar (for brown-braised onions)
1 Blanch the onions in boiling water for one minute. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop cooking. Slice off the ends; slip off the skins.
If you are using frozen pearl onions, defrost and drain them before the next step.
2a For "white-braised" onions: Put onions in one layer in a saucepan with chicken stock or water coming up halfway. Add 1 Tbsp butter, season lightly, cover, and simmer slowly 25 minutes, or until tender.
2b For "brown-braised" onions: Before braising, sauté peeled onions in one layer in butter until lightly browned. Then add liquid, salt, and 1 teaspoon of sugar; cover and simmer slowly 25 minutes, or until tender.
3 Uncover, boil off excess liquid, and fold in another Tbsp of butter if you wish. For "creamed" onions add some heavy cream to white-braised onions when they are just tender. Simmer several minutes until thickened, basting.