The best part about appetizers is their diminutive scale. I adore snack-sized food because it allows me to eat a wider variety of different dishes, plus it is easier to get in my mouth without having to take awkward bites. My new favorite fancy little appetizer: Julia Child’s Oignons Glacés à Brun, or Brown Braised Onions (this is my preferred name because it doesn’t require pretending I know how to pronounce French words).
I’m pretty sure Julia didn’t serve these cute, bite-sized onions as appetizers, but that doesn’t stop them from being an excellent option. They basically taste like a really good French onion soup on a cocktail fork. If that doesn’t make you go buy a bag of pearl onions, I don’t know what will.
I set this bowl of onions out when we hosted an appetizers-for-dinner get-together. We already had the bread and cheese covered, as well as a few other assorted snacks. The onions proved a nice foil for the creamy cheese. These would also be lovely atop toasted baguette slices with a little gruyere melted on them. Now that would be a real French onion soup appetizer.
Julia’s Brown Braised Onions (lightly adapted from Julia Child)
1 lb. peeled small white onions, thawed if frozen (I used a bag of frozen pearl onions from Trader Joe’s)
2 T unsalted butter
1/2 cup red wine or beef broth
Salt and pepper
Herb bouquet: 4 sprigs of parsley, 1 bay leaf, and 4 sprigs thyme tied in cheesecloth
Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook them for about 10 minutes, gently shaking the pan occasionally to roll the onions around so they brown on all sides.
Add the wine or broth, salt and pepper to taste (taking the saltiness of your liquid into account when deciding how much salt to add), and the herb boquet. Cover the skillet and reduce the heat to low, cooking for 40-50 minutes until the onions are tender and the liquid has evaporated but not burned.