Creamy Pearl Onions
- 2 lb. pearl onions
- 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 yellow onion, minced
- 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
- 2 1/2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 3/4 cup fine dried white bread crumbs
Bring the water back to a boil. Add the onions, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the onions are soft when pierced with a knife, 15 to 20 minutes. Using the slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a bowl. Continue to boil the cooking liquid until reduced to 1 cup, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside.
Position a rack in the upper third of an oven and preheat to 375°F.
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 3 Tbs. of the butter. Add the minced onion and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until well mixed and bubbling, about 2 minutes. Add the reserved 1 cup cooking liquid, the milk and cream. Cook until the sauce boils and thickens slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Add the pearl onions, adjust the heat to a gentle simmer and cook until the onions are hot, about 3 minutes.
Transfer the onion mixture to a 2-quart baking dish and sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over the top. Cut the remaining 1 Tbs. butter into 6 equal pieces and dot the bread crumbs evenly with the butter. Bake until the crumbs are golden and small bubbles appear along the edges of the dish, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately.