Thursday, January 20, 2011

Guest Post: Delicious Baked Onions

Another post from Kay, our favorite expat:

Delicious Baked Onions (or, "Nigel says...")

from Nigel Slater's "Tender Vol. 1"

I should probably start out by saying that I haven't actually EATEN this yet, but I've just taken it out of the oven and it looks so delicious that I'm not sure I'll be able to restrain myself until G gets home. They smell good, too. Nigel says to eat these baked onions with some grilled gammon steaks (gammon is English for ham) sprinkled with oregano, and possibly also some mashed potato or buttery rutabaga.

6 medium onions
About 2 Tbsp. butter (Nigel says 30g)
1 heaping Tbsp. flour
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup milk
3 bay leaves
salt & black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (Nigel says "a gentle grating")
2 tsp. whole-grain English mustard
chopped parsley (Nigel says "a small handful")

Preheat the oven to 350oF. Peel the onions, and then put them whole into a pot of boiling water. Simmer for 20 - 25 minutes until they're tender (Nigel says you should be able to poke them with the tip of a knife). Then dump them into a colander and let them cool down a bit while you do the next few steps. (Nigel says not to be tempted to use the oniony water for the sauce--it will be TOO oniony, apparently.)

Next, put the pot back on the stove and melt the butter in it. Add the flour to the butter, and cook for a few minutes, whisking so the mixture doesn't burn.

Now, at this stage, my mixture turned into about five big butter-colored lumps. Either, a) it's supposed to be that way and I don't know what I'm doing when it comes to making a white sauce, which is quite possibly the case, b) I used low-fat spread instead of butter in an attempt to be healthier, or c) I religiously weighed out a meager 30g of said low-fat spread and Nigel estimates the mass of his butter with an optimistic eye, which resulted in an anomalously low butter-to-flour ratio in my pot.

Either way, I didn't let the butter/flour mixture cook very long--I just got it all mixed into homogeneous lumps and then added the hot vegetable stock. At this point, worried that the sauce was going to turn out lumpy, I whisked frantically until my butter/flour lumps disappeared, and then added the milk. So, if you know how to make white sauce, do this part of the recipe as you see fit--otherwise, feel free to copy my amateur technique. Then add the bay leaves, the nutmeg, the mustard, and the salt and black pepper.

Let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes or more, stirring frequently to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pot. Meanwhile, slice the (hopefully cool) onions in half from top to bottom (stem to roots, that is, not around the middle) and put them face-down in an oven-proof dish. Stir the coarsely chopped parsley into the sauce and dump the lot over the onions. Their tops will probably be poking out, but Nigel says that is ok.

Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until the sauce is nice and bubbly. Nigel says you can leave the onions in the bottom of the oven while you broil up your gammon steaks. Yum!

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