Pearl Onions with Brown Butter and Balsamic Glaze

by Sally on November 29, 2012 · 2 comments

in Holiday Dishes, Side Dishes, Thanksgiving, Vegetables, Vegetarian Dishes

Pearl Onions with Brown Butter and Balsamic Glaze

Pearls. Lovely to wear and delicious to eat. That would be pearl onions. Petite when compared to their larger family members, pearl onions have a sweet flavor that is wonderful. Don’t turn your nose up until you’ve tried them cooked this way, browned in a little butter and finished with a little Balsamic. You might be happily surprised…or completely amazed.

Creamed pearl onions are a holiday tradition in my family. I hated them as a kid. Then I grew up, tried them, and finally understood what the fuss was about. My mom made them with a rich cream sauce. This year I wanted to make pearl onions for our holiday dinners, but a lighter, more modern version. What I did was so good and so easy, I had to pass the recipe on to you.

Brown butter Balsamic glazed pearl onions are good with any roasted meat or poultry. Think roast turkey, roast chicken, lamb, beef or just about anything. A great side dish not just for the holidays but for any day.  I’d be totally happy with a bowl of quinoa, some greens and pearl onions for a vegetarian dinner.

Pearl Onions

Buying Pearl Onions

When buying pearl onions, don’t buy them too small if you can choose. The best size is just a hair over 1″ (2.5 cm) in diameter. Once peeled they are the perfect mouthful. When shopping you’ll find other small onions called boiler onions. They are usually in bulk so you can choose them individually. The best size is no larger than 1 1/2″ (3.8 cm). If the onions are in netted bags, you just have to do with what you are given.

How to Cook and Peel Pearl Onions

Start by blanching raw pearl onions (peel on) in boiling water for a 1-2 minutes, then immediately place them in a bowl of ice water. This makes peeling them easy. First, trim off the root end with a sharp paring knife. You’ll find the skins slip right off. It’s a good trick. The short cut – buy them already peeled. Packages are in the refrigerated produce section of many stores these days.

Pearl Onions with Brown Butter and Balsamic Glaze

Finish Your Pearl Onions

After the pearl onions are peeled, cook them low and slow in a pan with a little butter (or a combo of olive oil and butter) until they became golden and the butter is browned. Be patient and occasionally swirl the pan to coat all of the onions. It won’t take that long, maybe 15-18 minutes. Then drizzle them with Balsamic syrup and stir to coat them. Add a little salt. The taste is heavenly. Even people who don’t think they like pearl onions will like these. Make more than you think you will eat. Like I said, you will be surprised!

In terms of the Balsamic glaze, you can make your own with my recipe or buy a bottle ready made. I’ve seen it at stores like Traders Joes or Whole Foods. It just takes 2-3 teaspoons. 

Whether for a holiday feast or an every day dinner, I hope you enjoy these pearl onions with brown butter and Balsamic glaze.

Pearl Onions with Brown Butter and Balsamic Glaze

Pearl onions browned in a little butter and finished with a little Balsamic syrup or glaze make for a tasty mouthful along side of roasted poultry or meat. The trick to easy peeling is blanching in boiling water, then shocking in ice water. The peels almost slip off. Or for those in a hurry dinners, buy the pre-peeled in the refrigerated produce section.

Serves:4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 -1 3/4 pounds (680-795 grams) pearl onions
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2-3 teaspoons Balsamic syrup or glaze
  • Sea or kosher salt to taste

Directions

  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a full boil. While the water is coming to a boil, prepare an ice bath with a large bowl, ice cubes and water. When the water is boiling, carefully add onions into the pot and boil for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Remove the onions with a slotted spoon or small strainer and place immediately into the ice bath for a few minutes. Drain the onions from the ice water. With a sharp paring knife, trim the root end of the onion, and slip off the skin.
  3. In a large skillet or saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions to the pan and turn heat down to medium-low. Allow onions to brown in the butter until they are golden and tender when pierced with a sharp paring knife. When ready, drizzle with the Balsamic and swirl the pan to coat the onions. Serve hot.
Helpful Links:
Here’s my recipe for Balsamic Syrup. Its so easy and handy to have in the kitchen
The pan I’m using is an All-Clad 3 quart sauté. It’s a great size. I use it’s big brother, the 6 quart All Clad sauté pan a lot too for bigger batches or cooking for family.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mary@SiftingFocus November 30, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Sally, thanks for the reminder that we don’t have to reserve this recipe just for the Thanksgiving meal. My husband loves glazed pearl onions but I never think to serve them any other time of the year. Now I will!

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2 Sally December 1, 2012 at 5:28 am

Sally, we always had creamed onions, too! And they weren’t very kid friendly, but I agree, they were worth fussing about. I also agree that a lighter touch is more in keeping with today’s eating–these are definitely on my Sunday supper list to go with roast chicken. I love oven roasted vegetables, but sometimes you need to switch it up. Nice post–your blog looks terrific!

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