Braised Onion Sauce

By • January 6, 2015 68 Comments

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Author Notes: This recipe is lightly adapted from James Beard's "Beard on Pasta." He originally calls for two sticks of butter -- which you are welcome to do -- but I find (as Molly at Orangette has too) that it works just as well with less. I use pappardelle, but feel free to switch that up. It's only important that you make this dish often.Kenzi Wilbur


Serves 4 to 6

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds yellow onions, halved and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup Madeira
  • 3/4 pound hot cooked pasta (I used pappardelle)
  • Flaky salt, for serving (if needed)
  • Grated Parmesan, for serving
  1. In a large (12-inch) skillet, warm the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and translucent.
  2. Stir in the sugar and a pinch of salt, and reduce the heat to low. Cook the onions slowly for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Patience is key! When they're done, they should be dark, caramelized, and borderline jammy.
  3. Stir in the Madeira, cook for a few more minutes, and then add the cooked pasta to the pan. Shower on a generous dusting of Parmesan, and using two large spoons, toss the pasta well with the sauce.
  4. Serve with additional grated Parmesan, and flaky salt if necessary.

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