I make this dish once a year for Thanksgiving, primarily for my husband and brother. This is one of the dishes that makes Thanksgiving special at least for some of the people at the table. I used to make more Béchamel Sauce but found the dish was a bit "soupy". If a high ratio of sauce is desired, consider increasing the sauce ingredient amounts.
3 pounds small white “creamer” onions
in a pot of boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain, cool, and remove skins, cutting the very top of the onion off with a very sharp paring knife.
Place the onions in a medium saucepan and add 2 cups water and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add more water if needed during the cooking. Drain the onions, reserving the cooking liquid.
Make the Béchamel Sauce. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, melt:
2 T sweet butter
2 T unbleached flour
and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture turns light golden, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in about ½ cup of the reserved cooking liquid to make a thick and smooth sauce. Then gradually whisk in
½ cup milk
¼ cup heavy cream
to make a smooth sauce. Season with:
1 T chopped fresh tarragon
¼ t grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer over low heat 10 to 15 minutes, adding more reserved cooking liquid if necessary to keep smooth consistency. Combine onions and sauce and place in ovenproof dish. The onions can be prepared to this point the day before and refrigerated overnight. Heat 20 to 25 minutes in preheated 350 degree F oven until the onions are heated through and the sauce is bubbly. If onions are cold to start, cooking time should be increased 10 to 15 minutes.
Served topped with a sprinkling of ground nutmeg and chopped fresh tarragon.