Pearls and Taters Gratin

pearlsnpotatoesIf you are like me, you’re always looking for  a new way tuck a few potatoes in the meal. After all, after the meat, the next question becomes, “what kind of potatoes shall I fix with that?”

Well, you won’t go wrong with this dish. It’s cheesy which is always good, and has lovely pearl onions which I adore. A bit more work than the average dish, but not enough to keep it off the menu.

If you follow the tips on cleaning your pearls, it will go quickly.


  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
  • 1 medium clove minced garlic (about 1 teaspoon)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds small new potatoes
  • 1 1/2 pounds pearl onions
  • 1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1/2-inch lardons
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 6 ounces grated Comté or Gruyère cheese


  1. Adjust an oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 400°F. Whisk together 1 tablespoon parsley, bread crumbs, and garlic in a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

  2. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Add 2 tablespoons salt and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

  3. Meanwhile, peel onions by cutting off tops and bottoms, scoring a light X on one cut side, and plunging in boiling water for 1 minute. Rinse under cool running water. Peels should come off easily by hand or with the help of a paring knife. Set aside.

  4. Place bacon in a large skillet. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, until  bacon begins to crisp. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until bacon is browned and crisp all over, about 8 minutes total. Remove the bacon to a towelling covered dish. Add potatoes and onions and saute until browned nicely on all sides. Drain off most of the bacon grease.   Add  heavy cream, and remaining tablespoon parsley and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  5. Transfer mixture to a rectangular casserole dish. Cover with cheese and transfer to oven. Bake until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle bread crumb mixture evenly over top and return to oven. Bake until browned and bubbly, about 15 minutes longer. Allow to cool slightly, and serve.

    SERVES: 6

    NOTES: Feel free to substitute any cheese you wish.

    SOURCE: Adapted from Serious Eats


Onion Oh Precious Rings

Ya gotta eat a lot of bad rings before you find a good one.

It’s just a fact.

And I’ve eaten my fair share of lousy onion rings.

I’ve tried a whole lot of “best ever” recipes, only to find that they were dull, tasteless, limpy, batterless, too battered, messes of goo. And given how messy making them is, that’s really really frustrating.

Now this is not a great recipe. I’ve probably not found that yet, but this one is good. It comes out as pictured. Nice light batter that actually is strong enough to stay on the ring. Flavor it up with plenty of seasoning, and it goes nicely with your burger or ribs, or whatever it seems good to go with to you.

A tip or two to make it easier to do, and you are on your way.


  • 1 large onion, cut in 1/4 inch slices, push the rings apart, and save the centers for some other use.
  • 1 c flour (more or less)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 c milk
  • oil for frying


  1. Cut up the onions, and let sit for a few minutes to dry a bit.
  2. Heat up the oil. About 1 inch in depth. I’m thinking around 325° but frankly I don’t measure the temp, just a sizzle when you scatter a droplet of water on it. A bit higher than medium on the electric range.
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients with a whisk. Then add the milk and egg, whisking until smooth.
  4. Batter should be thick enough to coat the onion ring, and be visible. Drop one in and see how it goes. The batter should remain and should, after browning and turning look very much like the picture. The onion ring should sink into the batter, not sit on top, but not be so drippy watery that it is just wet. Got that? Your test ring will help you. Either add a bit more flour or more milk to get it right.
  5. Then continue on frying, removing rings as they are done and depositing them on a jelly roll pan lined with paper towel and covered with a cooling rack. Place in a 250° oven to keep warm and crisp until ready to eat.

Serves: 4

Note: I use two wooden skewers. One to fish out the onion ring from the batter and drop it in the oil, and another to turn it over and fish it out of the oil. This makes the process ever so less messy. No hands, no gummy mess with a pair of tongs.

Also, adjust seasonings as you desire. The cayenne is optional of course.

Caramelized Pearls

I just love these onions. They are so sweet and succulent.

They are also a pain to fix. So I tend to make them at holidays.

Do yourself a favor and prepare them for cooking the day before. You won’t have the patience for it on the big day.

It’s really not that bad.

You know how sometimes you get frustrated with peeling an onion where the papery skin won’t slide off, and you just take a whole good layer and get on with it?

Well pearls are awfully little, and if you do that, you won’t have much left. So don’t do that!

I’ve come upon a decent way to clean them without too much of a rise in blood pressure.


  • 1 bag of pearl onions (about 20-25 in a bag)
  • 3 tbsp butter or oil, or combination


  1. Cut off just the very top of the tip end, (NOT the root), and lightly score down the side to the root without slicing into the next layer.
  2. When all are done, place in boiling water for no more than 30 seconds. Have a slotted spoon ready to pull them out. Let them cool, and you should be able to remove the papery outer layer fairly easily. Store in a plastic bag until ready to cook.
  3. Melt the butter in a saute pan and place onions in the pan on medium heat, shaking the pan often to roll them around. Once browned nicely, reduce to lower heat and continue until done and nicely soft. Shake pan now and again to keep from burning. This will take between 30-45 minutes normally.

Serves: 4