Weekends with Julia: Brown Braised Onions

by Sara on May 31, 2009

brown braised onions

Oh. My. God.

Those were the words going through my mind as I took my first bite of these onions. Unable to speak, I let out a long “Mmmmmmm.” And perhaps a little moan. Yes, these are really that good.

Actually, they’re better. If you’re familiar with the term Food Porn, well, these qualify. If I were to pick my final meal, brown braised onions would be a part of it. Instead, I will eat them now, and eat them often. Even if you don’t usually like onions, I would be large sums of money that you’ll like these.

I’ve wanted to make these for awhile, but the thought of peeling all of those onions put me off. But since Julia recommended this particular dish as a side to Beef Braised in Red Wine, I decided to go ahead and peel all of those little suckers. It was completely worth it, and I will be making these again…and again…and again.

sauteing the onions

Brown Braised Onions
Oignons Glacés à Brun
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Print Recipe

18-24 peeled white onions, about 1 inch in diameter
1 1/2 T butter
1 1/2 T canola oil
1/2 c brown stock or beef bouillon
salt and pepper to taste
Herb bouquet: 4 parsley sprigs, 2 thyme sprigs, 1 small bayleaf, tied together with twine

Heat butter and oil in 9-10 inch sauté pan over medium heat. When bubbling, add the onions and sauté for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions around the pan so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins, but don’t expect to brown them uniformly.

When browned, pour in the liquid, season to taste, and add the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40-50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove the herb bouquet.

Roll the hot onions around in a tablespoon of softened butter, if desired. Sprinkle with parsley.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Erin January 2, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Thanks for sharing this recipe! I used it while making Julia’s Boeuf Bourguignon for New Year’s – I don’t have her cookbook and had no idea how to brown braise onions for the dish until I found your site. Looking forward to reading more.

Sara January 5, 2010 at 10:08 am

Erin, I’m so glad you were able to make the onions…this is probably one of my favorite recipes ever. :)

Maya January 6, 2010 at 11:58 am

Thank you for posting this. I don’t have Julia’s cookbook either, so you saved me last night when I realized I needed this part to complete the most wonderful Boeuf Bourguignon dish ever! Absolutely wonderful!

Mary February 20, 2011 at 6:21 pm

I cooked these onions to accompany Julia’s Beef Bourguinon. Amazing!!!

Sara February 21, 2011 at 9:56 am

Mary, if I had to pick a menu for my last dinner, these onions would definitely be on it. They truly are one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my life!

Ginger February 22, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Don’t really know what a “chunk of bacon” is…only can find sliced in a package. Found something called “Hickory Smoked Pork Jowl Bacon” Does anyone know if this is suitable for Julia’s Beef Bourguinon? I hate to go thru all the steps and ruin her recipe with the wrong bacon…and I am making it for a houseful of guests this weekend! HELP!!! Thanks.

Sara February 22, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Ginger, I would just use regular bacon – it will turn out just fine.

Ginger February 23, 2011 at 7:55 am

Thanks, Sara..Can’t wait to make/eat this dish! :-)

Bonnie March 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Hello! I love experimenting, mostly I have cook asian meals,but found so many french recipes, tried and found I did not know what I was missing! one question though, could you substitute regular onions cut up for this recipe?

Bonnie March 26, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Hello! I would like to make this dish, but was wondering if I could use regular white onions cut up? and thank you for your web site! I just love making new stuff!

Sara March 28, 2011 at 6:56 am

Bonnie, you could try using diced onions, but the cooking time will be different. I would probably try using a bag of frozen pearl onions (thawed and patted dry) before I would try using a diced onion in this recipe. It’s really very special with the pearl onions, and I’m not sure the recipe will translate to a diced onion, if that makes sense.

If you do try it with a diced onion, please let me know how it turns out for you!

Amy August 2, 2011 at 6:07 pm

This recipe is one of the reasons I started writing about food. No one believes me that onions, onion pie, onion tartlets, etc. could be so delicious.

Sara August 9, 2011 at 9:02 am

Any time I want a “special” meal, I break out this recipe. Peeling the onions can be a pain, but it’s soooooo worth it in the end.

Michael September 25, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Hi all, just a quick sugegstion here; there’s a very easy way to get these little gems out of their skins, so to speak.

1- Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil.
2- Plunge the onions whole into the boiling water, and blanch them for one minute, two at the most.
3- Take the onions out of the boiling water and drop them into a bowl filled with ice-cold water (or better yet, water and some ice cubes!)
4- Let them sit there in the ice water for a minute.

Then, you can simply take each onion…slice off the very top (the part with the “root”) and grab the pointy end, squeeze…and the onion will slip out of its first layer, whole and ready to be braised.

Enjoy; they are nummy indeed!

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