You asked for it, you've got it: Two holiday side dishes that are a little out of the ordinary.

Balsamic Pearl Onions

8 servings

These are worth 20 minutes of peeling time. The end result is piquant with a bit of heat, and therefore a nice counterpoint to the holiday's turkey and mashed potatoes. Serve just a few on each plate.

MAKE AHEAD: This dish can be made up to 2 days in advance; recombine the onions with the balsamic reduction and reheat in a saucepan, just until they are warmed through.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 mesh packages (30 ounces total) white pearl onions and red pearl onions, peeled


Pinch of ancho chili powder

1/4 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 to 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)

In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and stir to coat. Cook for 10 minutes, or until onions have softened slightly. Add the salt to taste and the chili powder, cocoa powder and balsamic vinegar, stirring to combine. Cover, reduce heat to the lowest possible setting and cook for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a container to cool. Reserve the reduced balsamic vinegar in a separate container. At this point, the onions and balsamic reduction may be covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. To serve, in a small saucepan on a medium-low setting, heat the reserved balsamic vinegar with the heavy cream, if desired. Add the onions and stir until warmed through. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve in a warmed, lidded dish.

Per serving: 75 calories, 1 g protein, 11 g carbohydrates, 3 g fat, 8 mg cholesterol, 2 g saturated fat, 40 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; e-mail questions to

Gratin of Belgian Endive

With Applewood Smoked


8 servings

Robert Wiedmaier, chef and owner of Marcel's in the West End, is a native of Belgium. When we asked him for an endive recipe that goes well with turkey, this was his first choice. The slightly bitter flavor of the endive is a good foil for sweeter side dishes.

MAKE AHEAD: Several days in advance; bring to room temperature and finish with the sauce just prior to serving.

4 strips Applewood smoked bacon, cut in 2-inch strips

3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

3 cups chicken stock or broth, plus more as needed

1 medium carrot, peeled and diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1 medium onion, diced

2 tablespoons sugar

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

8 whole Belgian endive

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 tablespoons flour

2 cups milk

1/2 cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoons grated Gruyere cheese

1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

3 egg yolks

In a medium skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon strips until they are evenly browned and the fat has been rendered. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a small bowl. Add the parsley and set aside. (If making in advance, cover and refrigerate.)

In a pot large enough to hold the endive in a single layer, add the chicken stock or broth, carrot, celery, onion and sugar and the salt and pepper to taste and bring the stock to a simmer over low heat. Place the endive in the pot in a single layer, adding more stock, if necessary, to cover it.

Brush a large sheet of parchment paper with 1 tablespoon of the butter and place it, buttered side down, directly on top of the endive. Simmer for 11/2 to 2 hours or until the endive is soft when tested with a knife. Using tongs, transfer the endive to a medium-large baking dish in a single layer or eight individual ovenproof dishes and set aside to cool.

If making in advance, cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. Add the flour and stir to combine, without letting the mixture brown. Add the milk and stir constantly until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Add the Gruyere and mustard, stirring to combine. Strain the sauce mixture through a sieve into a medium bowl, add the egg yolks and stir to combine.

Pour the sauce over the endive and sprinkle with the remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons Gruyere. Bake for 10 minutes, then broil until the cheese is browned, about 3 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with bacon-parsley mixture. Serve hot.

Per serving: 246 calories, 10 g protein, 14 g carbohydrates, 17 g fat, 123 mg cholesterol, 9 g saturated fat, 222 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Walter Nicholls; e-mail questions to