The online magazine
dedicated to the
discussion & revival
of British foodways.

NO.53
SUMMER2017

Curried onions

An Old School Yankee accompaniment to roast turkey that provides a harmonious contrast to the other Thanksgiving dishes. It is a mild, thickish curry intended to enhance rather than mask the other flavors on the table. May be doubled or otherwise changed in size.


onions003.jpg-1 lb pearl onions (or see the notes)
-1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
-1 Tablespoon flour
-about 2 teaspoons mild curry powder
-1/3 cup heavy cream
-2 teaspoons Dijon or Dusseldorf mustard
-some hot sauce
-salt and white pepper


  1. Boil the onions in a big pot of salted water until they are tender, usually in about 10-15 minutes. Do not overcook them or they will fall apart.
  2. Measure out a scant cup of the onion water and keep it warm.
  3. Peel the onions.
  4. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat and whisk in the flour with the curry.
  5. Once you have a uniform paste, whisk the onion water slowly into the roux, followed by the cream and mustard.
  6. Reduce the heat a little and keep whisking the sauce until it thickens. It will not take long.
  7. Add the onions and hot sauce, reduce the heat to low and simmer the onions until they turn soft.
  8. Check the seasonings for salt and pepper.
  9. Serve the onions with as much of the sauce as you like; if you decide only to film them with the curry, set the unused sauce beside them in a little pitcher.

Notes:

- We unashamedly admit our fondness for Bird’s Eye frozen baby onions. They come in handy one pound bags, are a little bigger than cocktail onions, have a sweet flavor like them, and best of all require no fiddly peeling. Just put them in the microwave to thaw them; they will throw enough liquid to use in the recipe. Then you can skip Steps 1 and 3.

- Some curry powders contain salt, some (but not many; Tiger Tiger is one) include flour and some are spicy hot, so check your labels, taste the sauce before final seasoning, and be prudent with the salt and pepper.

- Vary the consistency of the sauce as you like. Thicken it with more flour; thin it by substituting half & half for the cream.

- A sprinkling of chopped scallion greens at the very end adds color and texture. So would some relatively mild minced red chillies.

- This curry is about as Indian as pizza. It is all, as Keith Stavely and Kathleen Fitzgerald might say, Anglo-American instead.

- If you do not like curry then that is a shame, but not an impediment to profiting from our recipe. Substitute a 2 more teaspoons of flour for the curry powder, increase the amount of butter by a teaspoon or so, and then you will get a classic dish of creamed onions. You would not want the chilies with that.