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Creamed Pearl Onions

From Athens Locally Grown

<p>Onions have been cooked and eaten since at least the 4th millenium B.C., and the creamed version is still so popular that it can be found in the frozen foods cabinet at local supermarkets. However, nothing compares with home cooking with fresh, local ingredients, and this recipe is really simple. Pearl onions are little scallions harvested in the spring, so a common traditional variant of this recipe also includes that other spring crop, green peas. (Sauteed mushrooms are still another delicious addition!) This is a good recipe for people who don&#8217;t think they like onions. Onions are actually relatives of lilies, and if the little onions are freshly harvested, when you fix them this way, they not only do not taste &#8220;oniony&#8221; &#8212; you actually may be able to detect a faint floral undertone to the taste.</p>
Source: A family recipe, but probably originally from one of the editions of Irma Rombauer's classic, Joy of Cooking (Entered by Janice Matthews)
Serves: 4

1 lb. pearl onions
1 1/2 T. butter
1 1/2 T. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup half-and-half (or additional milk)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. grated or ground nutmeg (opt.)
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese (opt.)

Step by Step Instructions
  1. Give the onions a wash and trim if necessary. (Remove any woody stems, but don't worry about little green sprouts; they'll cook up fine. Cut off any whiskery roots but leave a little bit of the base; otherwise the onion will separate into "leaves" when it cooks.) If they look like they need to be peeled, don't try to do it now. Instead, drop them into a large saucepan half-filled with cold water. Bring the water to a boil, and boil for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove the onions, let them cool just enough to be able to handle them, and the peels should slip off easily.
  2. Return the onions to the boiling water and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. (Check with a fork.) Drain them, but save 1/3 cup of the cooking liquid to use later. Transfer the onions into a shallow, greased 2-quart baking dish.
  3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and stir in the flour. (Don't try to substitute whole wheat flour for white, here; it'll make a grainy sauce.) Cook over low heat, stirring with a wire whisk, until the mixture is fragrant but not brown (about 3 minutes).
  4. Whisking constantly, add the milk, half and half, reserved cooking water, and the spices. (If using all milk, which makes a slightly thinner sauce, you may want to leave out some of the 1/3 c. cooking water to compensate.) Bring it all back to a simmer and cook it about 3 minutes more, continuing to whisk constantly. It should thicken into a lovely lump-free white sauce.
  5. Pour the sauce you've made over the onions in the baking dish, and sprinkle the cheese over the top. (The cheese is optional but yummy!). At this point you can either cover the dish and refrigerate it until you are ready to heat it, or just put it in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake until it is bubbly (about 15 minutes). Enjoy!