Somewhat belatedly, we find ourselves in the depths of winter, although I’m still not sure if we’re totally there yet. I’ve been anticipating blizzards and all the challenges they bring with them since, ooh, November, so I wasn’t disappointed when finally some snow arrived. It introduces another dimension to our day and instantly makes me think of steaming mugs of hot cocoa and scrumptious stove-top stews served bubbling from the pot. Our house is like an unending human flip-book of dressing indecision - layers on, layers off - but the Onion Principle is proven to be the best way of maintaining one’s core temperature.
To celebrate the versatility of the onion, this triumphant alium, in all its glory, I have showcased it by baking it under a blanket of Italian Gorgonzola in an onion gratin. This dish will stick to your ribs, providing another layer of insulation against the cold. The gratin makes a rich and tantalizing side dish to accompany a steak or roast beef (I recently discovered tri-tip roast, a cheaper and very tasty cut), or as an entree served with warm crusty french bread and a spinach salad.
Last year, I harvested shallots from the garden and these can be roasted whole for this recipe, but I have used sweet yellow onions here since they are more accessible. Onions can be stored perfectly well over the earlier winter months by initially air drying the tops then braiding them before hanging in a sheltered damp free location with air circulation. Some experimentation with homemade polytunnels at the garden this winter has provided a steady crop of spinach for a salad. Pair with a big, gutsy red wine or a dark beer.
Onion and Gorgonzola Gratin
Serves 6 as a side, 4 as a lunch entree.
3 medium yellow onions, quartered and separated
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup dry white wine
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a 9" x 9" ovenproof dish toss onions in the olive oil and season. Bake for 45 minutes and flip the onions occasionally when required. Remove from the oven.
2. Melt the butter and add the flour to make a roux, cook out for a minute before adding the cream, wine, nutmeg and seasoning. Cook for a further 5 minutes on a low heat.
3. Pour the sauce over the cooked onions and sprinkle with the Gorgonzola. Grill until bubbling (approximately 2 minutes).