At the new Maude's Liquor Bar in Chicago, Alinea veteran Jeff Pikus revisits Parisian favorites like steak tartare and duck rillettes. Soulful French onion soup, however, didn't make the cut--at least not in its original form. The standard bistro dish proved too fussy to produce at Maude's, so the chef recast the same full-bodied flavors in a fondue made from deeply caramelized onions and a bubbling Gruyère crust. A splash of chicken broth loosens the melted onions slightly while leaving the best part of French onion soup--the bread and the blistered cheese--intact.
French Onion Fondue
Recipe adapted from Jeff Pikus, Maude's Liquor Bar, Chicago
Yield: 4 to 6 appetizer servings
¼ cup unsalted butter
5 pounds sweet onions (about 6 onions), thinly sliced
¼ cup dry sherry
¼ cup sherry vinegar
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1½ cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
2 cups coarsely grated Gruyère cheese
1 teaspoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 baguette, sliced and lightly toasted
1. In a large pot, melt the butter over low heat. Add the onions and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until they are deeply browned, about 2 hours.
2. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the dry sherry, sherry vinegar, Worcestershire, thyme and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook over low heat until the liquid is reduced slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and reduce slightly, about 5 minutes.
3. Preheat the broiler. Divide the caramelized onions between two shallow, heatproof bowls or serving dishes (such as gratin dishes). Cover with the Gruyère, dividing it equally between the dishes. Broil until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, about 4 minutes. Garnish with the parsley. Cool slightly; serve with the baguette slices for dipping.