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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Creamed Pearl Onions w/ Bacon & Brandy | The Witches of Eastwick #FoodnFlix

Creamed Pearl Onions w/ Bacon & Brandy
We are heading back to the 80's and into the kitchen with The Witches of Eastwick for this month's edition of Food 'n Flix! Based on the John Updike novel of the same name (which I have not read), the movie is about three friends living in the town of Eastwick, Rhode Island who are dissatisfied with the state of their lives.

Alex (Cher) is a widowed artist and mother of one (at least I think she had 1 child). Sukie (Michelle Pfeiffer) is a divorced mother of 6 little girls who works as a reporter for the local newspaper and still manages to garden. Jane (Susan Sarandon) is a recently divorced cellist and music teacher who is unable to have children. They get together on Thursday nights to drink martinis and discuss life.

It's not really made clear in the movie that/if they are practicing witches, but they do happen to conjure up "the perfect man" during one of their Thursday night sessions. This mysterious and dangerous stranger (Jack Nicholson) blows into town and manages to sweep each one of them off their feet and into his bed. They wind up living a polygamist sort of lifestyle for a while (that kept me questioning why they didn't wish 3 men into their lives...because that situation was nowhere near ideal or desirable in my mind) - minus the marriage part.
Creamed Pearl Onions w/ Bacon & Brandy inspired by The Witches of Eastwick
The townsfolk start to whisper and tell tales about what happens in the mansion between the four, which inadvertently leads to a death—once again conjured by the "witches". Once they realize the death is their fault, they try to separate themselves from each other and from Daryl. This drives Daryl mad and his inner demon manifests more as the days pass.

When Sukie suffers serious pain and illness due to Daryl's "fit", the ladies decide to come together and banish him from their lives and their town...which leads to one of the most memorable scenes in the movie. Oh, and did I mention that all three of them are pregnant at this point?

Now, it's not a "foodie movie" per se, but there happens to be a ton of food in it nevertheless. In the opening scene Alex makes herself some toast and we see mustard and bananas on the countertop right before we see Sukie's daughter's groaning over the fact that their pb&j sandwiches are made with zucchini jelly. There's "girl's night" food and booze like pitchers of martinis, beer, crackers and spray cheese, and popcorn and chips.

We see a lavish table set up outdoors at Daryl's mansion that included a tower of fruit and what looked like duck and eggs, though he tells Alex they're having fish. They showed honey, oatmeal, giant zucchini, grapes, pickles and talked about bagels and gravlax, pistachio and chocolate chocolate chip ice cream.
Creamed Pearl Onions w/ Bacon & Brandy
Two of the most memorable scenes involving food centered around cherries. Cherries are probably what most people think of when they think Witches of Eastwick. But it's exactly the wrong time for me to get my hand on some good, fresh cherries, so I knew I wanted to go a different direction.

I also wanted to make something featuring Daryl's "favorite fruit", of which he brought a basketful to Sukie, red tamarillos. Only, I absolutely could not locate any tamarillos...even I put those out of my head until another day.

Instead, I drew from a somewhat unexpected (I think) scene which actually gave me two different recipe ideas...even though it had nothing to do with food. It happened about 22 minutes into the movie, when the town is buzzing over the arrival of the mysterious stranger. Everybody has just attended a string concert, at which Jane performed, and are now gossiping in the packed hallway.

At first, nobody can seem to recall the man's name. Sukie is telling Alex and Jane that it starts with a "D" and has an "R" and and "L" in it...and just as she remembers, her pearl necklace breaks and her pearls spill all over the floor. At the same time, Felicia is saying Daryl Van Horne's name with distaste, and she slips on the runaway pearls, falling down the stairs and breaking her leg.
My two recipe ideas were "Roasted Marrow Bone with Honey"—because marrow getting into her bloodstream is said to be the cause of her craziness...and she dropped a honey jar earlier. My second thought was to make a recipe featuring "pearl" onions. Not only did Sukie's pearls break, at least half of the women at that concert were wearing pearls around their neck. Pearls for the win.

If you start with frozen peeled pearl onions that have been thawed, this simple, yet luxurious side dish is ready in less than 15 minutes. Simmered gently in cream that has been infused with brandy and bacon, these creamed pearl onions make a dangerously good side dish that you'll crave (it fits in nicely at the Thanksgiving table, too).

Creamed Pearl Onions with Bacon and Brandy
These creamed onions with bacon and brandy make a rich and dangerously good side dish for any table.
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Creamed Pearl Onions w/ Bacon & Brandy
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 13 to 15 minutes
Keywords: simmer side bacon brandy cream onions Thanksgiving

Ingredients (serves 6-8)
  • 1 pound peeled pearl onions (thawed if frozen)
  • 4 slices smoky bacon (4 ounces total), cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 bushy sprig of fresh thyme + extra leaves to garnish
  • ground white pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • kosher or sea salt
Cook bacon in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat until just crisp. Lift out the bacon and set on paper towels to drain. Pour grease out of skillet and add the brandy.

Return pan to the burner and turn up to medium-high (the brandy will almost evaporate as soon as it hits the pan). Add drained bacon, onions, cream, thyme sprig, a big pinch of white pepper and some fresh grates of nutmeg; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium-low and cook gently, stirring often and carefully so that onions stay whole, until cream is thick, turned a bit golden, and reduced by half, 8 to 10 minutes.

Taste and adjust seasoning, as needed. Remove thyme stems and scatter some fresh thyme leaves over the top, if you wish before serving.
Creamed Pearl Onions w/ Bacon & Brandy
Food 'n Flix club logo
This month's edition of Food 'n Flix is being hosted by Kimberly at Coffee and Casseroles with her pick, The Witches of Eastwick! If you are a blogger and would like to join us, submissions are due by May 30 at 6pm ET this month (check out the Food 'n Flix Club's How to Participate page, leave a comment, or feel free to email me for more information).

Next month we'll be watching I Am Love with our host, Evelyne at CulturEatz!