No, you aren't hallucinating, the title of this post is ONION Carbonara, and yes, I already know what you're thinking because I thought the same thing too when I first heard about this dish.
"He must be insane…there's no way anybody would eat a whole bowl of onions masquerading as pasta, I don't care how much bacon and cream you throw at it!"
That's right, I thought those exact same thoughts so I know where you're at, but stay with me because as odd sounding as this dish is, it totally rocks.
When in DC a few weeks ago for Share Our Strength's annual Conference of Leaders I had the good fortune to be introduced to this wonder and was so intrigued by the concept that I just had to try it. At first I thought it might be a more traditional pasta carbonara with onion added in some sort of creative twist, but when my plate was delivered and I saw onion "noodles" in place of the pasta I couldn't believe my eyes.
This carb-light carbonara is really a marvel. By steaming the onion strings before tossing them with the sauce you remove almost all the "onion-ness" from them, and you're left with a toothsome pasta stand-in that melds with the dish's rich bacon-cream sauce beautifully.
If you're not willing to take my word for it, perhaps knowing that this dish was created by the famed DC chef- restaurateur Michel Richard might convince you to take a swing at this one. Yeah, this is a plate with a pedigree and would make a delicious (and conversation starting) first course, or a fabulous side with just about anything. I think it would be particularly good served alongside a juicy ribeye fresh from the grill….YUM!
Cheers – Steve
- 2 large vidalia onions
- 4 ounces thick-cut bacon
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan, plus more for the table
- 1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- fresh herbs of your choice
- Peel the onions and shave any "hairs" off the root end, then cut a little off the "top" of the onion so you can set it on a cutting board without having it roll around. Place the onions on their flat tops on the cutting board with the root ends facing up, and place the tip of a knife at the center of the root and press down, creating one cut down through the onion (this will cause the onion to create strands and not rings when you slice it in the next step). Place the flat top of each onion on the blade of a mandolin and slice it to about 1/8" thick.
- Place the onion strings in a steamer basket set over boiling water, cover and steam for 6-7 minutes until the onions are cooked through but still have a tender bite to them. Remove and let cool.
- Take half the cream, the egg yolk and the sour cream and whisk together in a bowl, set aside.
- Cut bacon slices into lardons and sauté in a skillet set over medium heat until browned and crisp. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set on paper towels to drain. Pour the bacon fat off and set the pan back over the heat.
- Add the butter to the pan and add back the bacon, the balance of the cream, and the onions. Toss to coat and cook until the cream reduces slightly. Add the egg-cream mixture along with the cheese and cook, tossing frequently until the sauce reaches the desired consistency, it should take no more than 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
- Serve the carbonara, passing additional cheese and freshly chopped herbs for garnish.