This is a playful dish based on a recipe by Michel Richard of Citronelle, adapted by Gastronomer Andreas Viestad.
By steaming thin slices of onions, one achieves almost the opposite of caramelization. The heat will remove their pungency. Most of the sugars on their surface will be removed by the water vapor, leaving the onion slices mild, with a vague resemblance to pasta.
- 3 large yellow onions
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 pound bacon or pancetta, cut into small dice
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling, if desired
To prepare the onions using a meat slicer, cut off the root end and top of each onion and discard. With a paring knife, core each onion by cutting a cone-shaped piece from the root end, much as you would remove the stem of an apple. Stand each onion on one end and cut a vertical slit from top to bottom, just reaching the center. That will create long strands of onion, rather than rings, when the onion is sliced. Set the slicer to cut 1/8-inch-thick slices. Place a flat end of an onion against the blade and slice.
To cut by hand, leave the root end intact, but a cut a slit in each onion as above, then cut across the onions to make 1/8-inch-thick slices.
Separate the onion slices into strands. Place the longer strands in a bowl and reserve the shorter ones for another use. You should have about 8 cups of loosely packed onion.
Place a steamer basket in a pot over barely bubbling water (medium to medium-low heat). Place the onion strands in the basket, cover, and steam for 5 to 6 minutes or until the onions are translucent but still al dente. Remove the basket from the pot. (This can be done a few hours before serving.)
Combine 1/4 cup of the cream and the egg yolk in a small bowl. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and the remaining 1/4 cup of cream and cook so that the edges are barely bubbling for 30 seconds. Add the onions and pepper, tossing lightly to combine; cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the onions are hot. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the reserved cream mixture and the Parmesan cheese. Taste and add pepper as needed.
Use a pair of tongs to lift each portion, letting excess sauce drip back into the skillet, and arrange in a small mound on the serving plate. Serve sprinkled with additional cheese, if desired.
Adapted from "Happy in the Kitchen," by Michel Richard (Artisan Press, 2006).
Tested by Hal Mehlman.
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