Food

Cozy French Onion Gratin

Cozy French Onion Gratin

I have many food heroes in my life, but right up there at the top of that list is…

…Frances Boswell. I worked with Frances in the early days of my magazine editing career, and she was the first person to impress upon me the importance of everybody’s now-favorite food mantra: Cook simply, use fresh ingredients. She was also the first person to teach me about the magic of caramelizing onions, so when I came upon this recipe from Kitchen Repertoire, the gorgeous website she produces with photographer Dana Gallagher, I knew it was going to be a home run. It’s my favorite kind of cooking: spinning a few humble ingredients — bread, onions, cheese — into something special.

French Onion Gratin
Serve with a green salad that’s been tossed with a super simple vinaigrette.

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 large onions, peeled and quartered
6 shallots, peeled and halved if large
several sprigs of fresh thyme
Sea salt and ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups white wine, or as much as you have left in an open bottle
6 cups stock (beef, chicken, or vegetable)
6 – 8 slices stale bread, toasted if not yet completely dried out
1 cup grated cheese such as Gruyère, Swiss or cheddar

Melt butter and olive oil together in a large Dutch oven over a medium heat. Add onions and shallots and cook, stirring only occasionally, until vegetables take on a rich brown color, about 15 minutes. Add all but a sprig or two of thyme and season with salt and pepper. Add 1/2 cup white wine and use the back of a wooden spoon to scrape and deglaze, dissolving any of the brown bits that may have cooked onto the pan and creating a rich sweet braising liquid. Reduce heat, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are silky soft about another 45 minutes. Stir in remaining wine and broth. Increase heat and bring liquid to a bubble. Season with more salt and pepper. Simmer until liquid has reduced to such a point that onions and liquid are more or less at the same level.

Heat oven to 425°F. Arrange stale bread over the surface of onions and broth, pressing down gently on bread.  Scatter grated cheese over bread. Top with remaining thyme. Bake until cheese is melted and the whole dish is bubbly and hot, about 10 minutes.

For more recipe inspiration from Frances and Dana, follow them on instagram.

P.S. A grilled cheese with superpowers and angel hair with garlic-fried egg and Parm.

(Photo by Dana Gallagher for Kitchen Repertoire.)

  1. Ame says...

    I made this! And a gluten free version too. Such a great idea to make it a gratin. Thanks for the idea!

  2. Ashley says...

    Wow! This was very comforting and easy to make. I scaled it down a bit because I cook for one and I had some leftovers. It was the perfect thing to make on a Sunday afternoon during quarantine. The broth was rich and brown and the onions were deliciously soft! I used a mixture of gruyere and cheddar for the bread. Thank you for posting this at an excellent time!

  3. katie says...

    Jenny – I’m a school teacher & will be self isolating the next two weeks while all public schools are shuttered in Oregon. This is gonna be my ‘CTFD’ dish when I’m about to climb the walls. Cannot wait to make this. Such perfect timing, thank you! Love to all!

  4. Julie says...

    Yum!! Making this on Saturday- thanks!

  5. anne says...

    I love french onion soup! And also Jenny!

  6. Mercy says...

    I just looked through the site and wow at these recipes!! They’re so ~fancy and beautiful and intriguing. However Jenny, the fact that their posts have gotten more and more far apart makes me feel like you just introduced me to an amazing new show I binge watch in one go, only to find out immediately after that it’s been cancelled lol. I hope they post some new things soon!

  7. Sharon says...

    This looks good, but a bit too much bread. I think we’ll have to make classic French Onion soup very soon!

  8. Amy says...

    Hmmm….well, I carmelized about 4 large onions for French onion soup the other day. They took around 45 minutes in my regular sized Dutch oven and they were amazing!!!

  9. This recipe is so intriguing. I’m a major fan of french onion soup, but I don’t know if I’d like it deconstructed like this. I’d love to hear from anyone who tries this recipe. If I’m investing this much time in carmelizing onions, I think I would just go for the classic soup instead, but I could be convinced if anyone else tries it and confirms that it’s worth it!

  10. Lauren E. says...

    This. is. my. heaven. Mostly onions with some bread and cheese?! Yes please.

  11. Suzanne says...

    Describing a soup as “cozy” is absolutely perfect. I can’t wait to make this!

  12. Regina says...

    When caramelizing an onion, or as stated above, achieving a “rich brown color” your onion needs space to spread out. They need this space because as you continually stir and rotate them the onion’s surfaces must touch the pan to brown and caramelize. For one onion this takes between 30-45 minutes depending on what stage of browning/caramelization you want your onion to be in. This recipe states that 6 large onions and 6 shallots can be caramelized, or as you say “browned,” in 15 minutes. Either you have the worlds largest dutch oven, a secret the rest of the world hasn’t been let in on, or this recipe is incorrect.

    • Sarah says...

      Agree! I’ve never understood why so many recipes understate the amount of time it takes to caramelize an onion!

    • Lauren says...

      Well, browning is different than caramelizing, and medium heat is pretty high: after fifteen minutes I think you do get a kind of browned mixture, about 1/3 dark brown bits and two-thirds raw-ish steamed bits. If that’s what you’re going for!

    • CathyMA says...

      exactly! 45-50 minutes at least. Slow and long.

  13. lesley says...

    YUM.

  14. martha says...

    I’ve been sleeping on Jenny’s recipes but NO MORE – this looks too good NOT to make.

    • Jen says...

      Giggling to myself, wondering what if this comment was from Martha…STEWART? : )

  15. Rusty says...

    Hhhhmmmm….bought a big bag of onions today, for hunkering down from the Coronavirus.
    I think I’m gonna ad-lib this recipe coz we bought too much bread and it won’t all fit in the freezer!!!
    Thanks for the inspiration:)

  16. Sarah says...

    Looks so delicious! But in the photo is it served in a galvanized bucket? Haha. I know it’s not but the angle of the photo is just confusing me.

    Can’t wait to make!

    • Wendela says...

      Looks amazing—what kind of onions do you recommend? Yellow? Or red (which I think caramelize a bit better but also ha e a different flavor)? Can’t wait to try this!

    • Lauren says...

      Haha my guess is aluminum pot. I was going to say aluminum with that ’70s paint coating that chips off on the outside until I saw the bit in the lower corner. Can you tell us, Miss Jenny or Jo? : )

    • Mercy says...

      Haha I wondered the same thing!!

  17. liz says...

    has anything ever looked so delicious?

  18. This looks super easy and enticing to make