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Creamed Onions for Thanksgiving

walker Nov 3, 2012 02:48 PM

I like creamed onions and try to delegate that to my daughter (she lives downstairs) but they don't turn out right so I think I must do them BUT when turkey comes out, I'm busy making the gravy.

I know it's a lot of work to prepare those little onions but I just don't like the frozen ones. Could I prepare the onions the day before and keep them in the fridge? Should I finish them just before the turkey comes out? I'm afraid it will separate or be overcooked by the time the turkey is carved and served.

Or, can I prepare it the day before and just reheat in microwave before serving?

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  1. greygarious RE: walker Nov 3, 2012 03:20 PM

    Either is fine. If nuking to reheat, leave the bowl on the counter to come to room temp first, then use low power so you aren't cooking the sauce and making it thicken further.

    1. biondanonima RE: walker Nov 3, 2012 03:29 PM

      I haven't had a ton of success reheating creamed onions without the sauce breaking (I haven't really been all that careful about it though - I usually just nuke the hell out of the leftovers). If I were you I'd either make the complete dish up to the baking step and just do the baking the next day (allowing the dish to come to room temp before putting it in the oven), or peel and blanch the onions the day before and hold them overnight in a ziploc or something else airtight. Then you can do the sauce/baking any time during your day-of prep that seems convenient.

      1. m
        magiesmom RE: walker Nov 3, 2012 03:38 PM

        you can certainly reheat in the microwave, just do it gently and from room temp and it will be fine. really.

        1. s
          smtucker RE: walker Nov 3, 2012 06:46 PM

          I prepare the onions two days before- steaming and popping the little suckers. The next day I make the sauce and then simmer the onions in the sauce for enough time for the onions to finish cooking. The day of Thanksgiving, I put the onions with sauce into a double boiler to bring back to temperature. It takes a fair amount of time but the sauce has never broken.

          I am the last person in my family willing to fuss with those onions but they all love this once a year treat.

          2 Replies
          1. re: smtucker
            walker RE: smtucker Nov 3, 2012 10:24 PM

            When you heat up in double boiler, you do this after turkey comes out of oven? You have the water simmering low and slow?

            So, before, you steam the onions? I've read to put in boiling water (I forget how long, not long, it's in the recipe) and them put them into bowl of ice water and then pop them out of the skins.

            1. re: walker
              smtucker RE: walker Nov 4, 2012 06:30 AM

              I actually steam the onions to pop them out of their shells. [I have a really big steamer.] I do not put them into cold water. Never considered that! I burn my hands for this one dish. Then make the sauce with onions and then in a double boiler to warm.

              The turkey is never in the oven, but I probably put the onions in the double boiler about an hour before we sit down to eat? [Our turkey is outside on a smoker.]

          2. r
            randyjl RE: walker Nov 3, 2012 10:36 PM

            How about posting a good recipe. I have never heard of creamed onions.

            7 Replies
            1. re: randyjl
              walker RE: randyjl Nov 4, 2012 12:43 AM

              Here's one we've used; I'm open to trying a different one; I'll probably double this:

              2 pounds unpeeled white pearl onions
              1 1/4 teaspoons salt
              2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
              4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (is this too much flour y'all??)
              2 cups heavy cream or half and half'
              1/4 teaspoon black pepper
              1/2 teaspoon paprika

              Place unpeeled onions in a large pot of boiling water for approx. one minute .. remove from boiling water and drain. Transfer onions to a bowl of ice water to prevent further cooking. Drain again and peel (they'll pop out of their skins).

              Add onions to pot with 1 teaspoon of salt and enough water to cover. Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce heat and cook til onions are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.

              While onions are cooking, prepare the sauce: Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat then whisk in flour, pepper and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Whisk continuously to prevent burning then slowly add cream or 1/2 and 1/2 while whisking and cook until mixture thickens and comes to a slight boil, about 3-4 minutes. Reduce heat, add cooked onions to the sauce. Add to serving dish and sprinkle with paprika. (Chopped fresh parsley on top would be good, too.)

              My daughter put a note on the recipe that it seemed too thick so she thinned it with some milk.

              1. re: walker
                biondanonima RE: walker Nov 4, 2012 05:50 AM

                I found a similar recipe on Saveur that I've been wanting to try - the main differences seem to be the addition of a bit of white wine and nutmeg, and the fact that the Saveur one is topped with a mixture of gorgonzola and parmesan cheeses. What could be bad about that?

                1. re: biondanonima
                  magiesmom RE: biondanonima Nov 4, 2012 07:20 AM

                  I think the gorgonzola would ruin the dish by covering the delicate flavor of th eonions.

                2. re: walker
                  sr44 RE: walker Nov 4, 2012 06:22 AM

                  I like them seasoned with a bit of Szechuan pepper, toasted and ground.

                  1. re: walker
                    smtucker RE: walker Nov 4, 2012 06:33 AM

                    Yes. That is too much flour. I use a 1:1 ratio of butter to flour. I never use heavy cream or half and half either; a good quality whole milk is sufficient. I also use a fair amount of dried mustard and a bit of nutmeg, no paprika.

                    As mentioned above, I don't boil the onions, I steam them. Then pop them when I can just bare the level of heat.

                    1. re: walker
                      magiesmom RE: walker Nov 4, 2012 07:19 AM

                      yes, twice too much flour.

                    2. re: randyjl
                      Sam D. RE: randyjl Nov 4, 2012 12:03 PM

                      Here is the link to a recipe I have used from Food & Wine and always had great results. (Aren’t most things better with bacon added? :-)


                    3. geminigirl RE: walker Nov 4, 2012 08:32 AM

                      I've only made them for the past three years as a suggestion from on here. I really like them and do make them a day ahead and reheat without problems on the stove top. This is the recipie I've used with success. I add a pinch of nutmeg and skip the thyme.


                      1. Lillipop RE: walker Nov 4, 2012 09:43 AM

                        I am just curious my son's ex G/F made creamed onions for a big" blended families" Thanksgiving dinner in 2010.She used Cipollini onions.Are those the correct ones to use?They were not the tiny pearl onions they were more like a silver dollar or slightly larger size.She prepared the dish here at my house and it was very labor intensive but oh so extravagantly luscious.She prepared it here and then baked it at my daughters home where the dinner was hosted and they were absolute perfection:)

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: Lillipop
                          smtucker RE: Lillipop Nov 4, 2012 09:44 AM

                          As much as I love cipollini onions, the tiny pearl onions are traditional here in New England. Also, generally, creamed onions isn't a baked dish.

                          1. re: smtucker
                            512window RE: smtucker Nov 4, 2012 11:45 AM

                            Creamed onions was a traditional dish for my father's family, German-Dutch from Chicago. They always use boiling onions (at least twice as big as pearl onions) and the dish is baked.

                            It's so bland though, I always figured it would be better with a little sour cream or somthing to zing up the white sauce.

                            1. re: 512window
                              biondanonima RE: 512window Nov 4, 2012 03:21 PM

                              My friend who usually brings them adds a little dijon mustard to her sauce - I've also been contemplating a recipe that calls for white wine. I agree that a completely plain white sauce is a little bland.

                            2. re: smtucker
                              Lillipop RE: smtucker Nov 4, 2012 12:02 PM

                              She prepared it here put in into a casserole dish and "baked"/"heated" the casserole dish in the oven at my daughter's house.She used cipolinni onions.....butter...flour thyme...other herbs...cream and made one of the most luxurious dishes I had ever tasted.

                              1. re: smtucker
                                melpy RE: smtucker Nov 4, 2012 01:25 PM

                                This is the type I am familiar with. My mother always used a jar of onions and I don't really care for them. I wonder of the fresh would taste better to me? I do like the sauce.

                                1. re: melpy
                                  biondanonima RE: melpy Nov 4, 2012 03:22 PM

                                  The jarred onions usually have vinegar or acid added, which to me makes them completely unsuitable for this dish. Try it with fresh onions and see if you like it more.

                              2. re: Lillipop
                                walker RE: Lillipop Nov 4, 2012 10:26 AM

                                Do you have her recipe? I know cipollini's are expensive .. $4 lb .. but so are the fresh pearl onions .. wonder how they compare in price? I have another recipe for cipollini's that are sauteed and then they get some balsamic vinegar .. delicious.

                                1. re: walker
                                  walker RE: walker Nov 4, 2012 10:40 AM

                                  I just found the cipollini recipe .. it's from Smitten Kitchen (love this site), adapted from Mario Batali. It's 2 lbs cipollini or small onions, 4 T olive oil, 3 T unsalted butter, 2 T sugar, 1 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup tomato sauce (I did not want tomato taste in this so I used chicken broth, instead), 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary (I prefer parsley, so that's what I used).

                                  She recs using a splatter screen because it spits and all while you're sauteing the onions.
                                  She calls this recipe: Balsamic-glazed sweet and sour cipollini.

                                  1. re: walker
                                    smtucker RE: walker Nov 4, 2012 11:34 AM

                                    I love that recipe! Made it numerous times.

                                  2. re: walker
                                    Lillipop RE: walker Nov 4, 2012 12:11 PM

                                    I do not have the recipe for the creamed onions she prepared.I know she googled it and printed out the recipe because she was cooking from the printed instructions.I know there were cipollini onions...cream.....butter....flour (roux) salt pepper and thyme.I am not sure what fresh herbs went into the dish.

                                    1. re: walker
                                      biondanonima RE: walker Nov 4, 2012 03:24 PM

                                      If you're concerned about expense, you can definitely make creamed onions out of any type of onion - you just have to cut them into smaller (bite sized) pieces and cook them thoroughly before saucing, since they don't really cook much once they're in the sauce.

                                  3. k
                                    kseiverd RE: walker Nov 4, 2012 12:13 PM

                                    Along with my "infamous" sweet potatoes (like spicy candy), I usually take creamed onions to T-Day dinner. The idea of adding gorganzola/bleu cheese sounds interesting. Thinking I'll just have to experiment head of time.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: kseiverd
                                      geminigirl RE: kseiverd Nov 4, 2012 01:33 PM

                                      Recipie please? Thanks

                                    2. p
                                      plasticanimal RE: walker Nov 4, 2012 12:18 PM

                                      I've never heard of creamed onions! In what region(s) are they common?

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: plasticanimal
                                        smtucker RE: plasticanimal Nov 4, 2012 12:49 PM

                                        New England, Salem, Concord, and Maynard, MA to be specific.

                                        1. re: smtucker
                                          melpy RE: smtucker Nov 4, 2012 01:27 PM

                                          We also had them in CT. Which I know is part of NE but just to say it reaches pretty far.

                                        2. re: plasticanimal
                                          JoanN RE: plasticanimal Nov 4, 2012 03:32 PM

                                          That's a great question. They weren't a part of my tradition in central New Jersey, but I've just been asked for them by folks I'll be hosting who come from a New England tradition. Reading this thread very closely. Not sure what they expect. Not sure how to provide it.

                                          1. re: JoanN
                                            walker RE: JoanN Nov 4, 2012 05:31 PM

                                            I think I'm going to try this recipe; you can make it ahead and bake the day of .. will skip the pimiento strips.


                                            1. re: JoanN
                                              smtucker RE: JoanN Nov 4, 2012 06:08 PM

                                              Joan, it is really just a bechamel with steamed pearl onions. Very easy dish, but popping those pearl onions out of their skins is very time consuming. Just simmer the onions with sauce on the stove. No baking needed.

                                            2. re: plasticanimal
                                              Sam D. RE: plasticanimal Nov 4, 2012 03:39 PM

                                              I'm in Calif. My parents were from the deep south. I never heard of creamed onions until 3 years ago when someone on this forum mentioned the dish and I began making it. I kinda wish I had known of it earlier.

                                              1. re: Sam D.
                                                JoanN RE: Sam D. Nov 4, 2012 03:47 PM

                                                So. What recipe do you use? Is it different from the one you first used three years ago?

                                            3. j
                                              Julijane RE: walker Nov 4, 2012 05:59 PM

                                              Regarding the type of onion used in creamed onions; I grew up with this delicious Thanksgiving side dish, and trust me, my mother never heard of a cipollini or even a pearl onion back then. She used a "boiling onion" in her creamed onion recipe. Read this; http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/Dictiona.... I recall how laborious the onion prep was for this, so I shied away from making them for years, and only began making them again a few years ago. Now they are a staple of our holiday menu, and I wouldn't dream of taking them off the list of offerings. Since I only make them once a year, why not? I've tried fresh pearl onions, frozen pearls, cipollinis, and boiling onions - when I can find them. Honestly, Mom was right - the "boilers" work best for me, and since they are larger in size, a (little) less effort. I can only say, make these; they are delicious and your family will thank you. To lighten the sauce, I always save some of the liquid I've boiled the onions in and whisk it in to the white sauce. I don't add wine or cheese, just a sprinkle of nutmeg on top.

                                              1. tcamp RE: walker Nov 4, 2012 06:01 PM

                                                Here are the curried onions we've enjoyed for years. Comes from my sister's MIL. You can make in advance, then cook after the turkey vacates the oven.

                                                Curried Onions
                                                1 lb. pearl onions
                                                3 T. butter
                                                2 T. flour
                                                ½ c. beef stock
                                                ½ c. milk
                                                ½ teaspoon curry powder
                                                ½ teaspoon salt
                                                ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
                                                ¼ teaspoon paprika
                                                ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
                                                ¼ c. grated sharp cheddar cheese

                                                Parboil onions in boiling water 3 to 5 minutes. Drain, cut off root and stem of each onion. Slip off skins. Place onions in a 1 qt. casserole dish.

                                                In a small sauce pan, heat butter until foamy. Stir in flour. Cook several minutes over low heat. Gradually add stock and milk, stirring constantly until thickened. Add spices and cheese and stir until cheese has melted. Heat oven to 300 degrees.

                                                Pour sauce over onions. Cover and bake for 45 minutes until onions are tender.

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