Onion sauce

A couple of days ago I wrote about mint sauce, the traditional accompaniment to roast lamb or mutton (although mutton isn’t easily available these days. I mentioned the fact that I didn’t like mint sauce much, but the other great accompaniment to lamb is onion sauce and that I do like very, very much! I don’t mean bread sauce with onions in – I had never ever even heard of that until I was an adult; I came across people who adored the stuff, thought it was wonderful, marvellous, essential! When I actually tried it I was so disappointed it – it reminded me of wall-paper paste or how I imagine wall-paper paste to taste (I don’t actually ever eat wallpaper paste!)

We used to have onion sauce at home, but now I come to think about it, I’m not sure how it was made… were the sliced onions gently cooked in butter until translucent but not the slightest bit brown? were the onions boiled in a little water until tender, and then the water was added with the onions to the sauce for more flavour? Were the onions cooked in the milk – or even in the sauce? I can’t imagine that somehow because it would take such a long time for them to cook.  What I do know is that the magic ingredient was a good slug of ‘cooking’ sherry – which I guess was just the cheapest sherry available and used in such things as trifle and gravy (not together of course!)

This is how I make onion sauce:

  • onions sliced and chopped
  • butter
  • flour (some people use cornflour – although I use it a lot I don’t like it in these type of sauces)
  • milk
  • salt and pepper
  • sherry
  1. either very gently cook the onions in the butter, or cook them in just a very little water
  2. add flour and cook for a few minutes (if you are cooking your onions in water first, melt butter in a separate pan and add flour to make a roux)
  3. gradually add the milk, stirring all the time so it doesn’t go lumpy (add the onions and their liquor if cooked separately)
  4. add as much milk as you want to the consistency you like, add the seasoning and the sherry

Any left over onion sauce can be added to soup or gravy.

My featured picture is of a red onion… I’m not sure red onions would look as good as white, although no doubt they would taste fine!!


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