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Creamed Onions (Alfredo Style)

July 11, 2012

On the one year anniversary of my first date with my husband, I made Deb’s creamed onions with chives and bacon, and fully intended to tell you more about it after first mentioning it.  Of course I failed to do so.  And this still is not that recipe.  Just use Deb’s recipe, enjoy, and be happy.

However, on the Fourth of July, I made an alfredo version of those creamed onions, and they were also delicious.  We reserved most of the onions for leftovers, to be reheated with a little extra cream.  But that was just because I made them at a strange time of day, with the intention of eating them another time.  We still sampled the onions and made happy, my-tummy-is-full-of-deliciousness noises, and I think we both wished it had been dinner time so we could just eat the rest of them right then and there.  After all, cheese and cream and onions and nutmeg makes both of us happy.

I keep searching in vain for frozen, peeled pearl onions, which would make this dish three times as easy to make.  My grocery store doesn’t appear to carry them, but if yours does, please try that.  I imagine they would be just as delicious, and you would not have to peel all of the onions one by one, which is a worthwhile process but a time-consuming one.

Creamed Onions

Adapted heavily from Smitten Kitchen

  • 100 pearl onions (from 3 10 oz bags of fresh pearl onions)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (preferably brought to room temperature)
  • 1 cup of very finely grated Parmesan (preferably brought to room temperature)
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 TBSP brandy (completely optional)

Bring a medium pot of water to boil.  Add salt, then toss in the pearl onions (if using unpeeled onions instead of the frozen, already peeled kind).  While the onions are boiling, prepare an ice bath – fill a large bowl with cold water and add a few handfuls of ice.  After the onions have boiled for 3 minutes, drain them and place them in the ice water bath.  Let sit for a few minutes, then drain again.

Now, peel the onions.  This will take a while.  This last time, it took me 45 minutes, but I was watching the Olympic Trials and not focusing well, so it probably would have taken me about 20 had I been standing in the kitchen working with laser-like focus.  The easiest way to peel the onions is to draw a paring knife down the side of the onion.  You should then be able to peel the onion relatively easily.  Leave the root mostly intact but remove any hard bits.  If, in trying to strike this delicate balance, you accidentally pull out the center of the onion, guess what?  You can shove it right back in.  No one will be the wiser, except you.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil and butter until the butter is melted.  Add in the cream, cheese, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Stir until completely smooth and reduce to medium-low heat.  It’s very important not to use too much heat, because then you run the risk of the alfredo separating, which I’ve learned the hard way more than once.  Stir occasionally.  After five minutes or so, the sauce should have started to thicken.  Add in the pearl onions and brandy (if using) and stir well.  Cover the pan most of the way, but not completely.

I took the pot lid off completely for a brief moment so that I could admire the bubbling delicious.

Cook, stirring frequently, for another ten to fifteen minutes, or until the sauce has reduced by half and the onions are well-coated (this may take longer depending on your burner and the size of your pan).

Serve immediately or refrigerate and reheat with a little bit of extra cream (preferably on the stove-top).

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