The classic. This is one of Farmer Stew’s specialties. You’ll need six ceramic bowls sturdy enough to put under the broiler. Although beef broth is traditional, chicken or vegetable broth, or a combination, is fine. Don’t replace the broth with water. This seems labor-intensive, but it’s not really; more time-consuming if anything. However, it’s worth it…
1 c white wine
1/2 c plus 3 T sherry
10 T butter, divided
1 t sugar or maple syrup
3 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
salt and pepper, to taste
6 sprigs parsley
6 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
8 c (beef) broth
1 baguette, sliced into 12 rounds
2 cloves garlic, smashed
6 c grated Gruyère cheese
2 c finely grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1. Heat oven to 425ºF. Combine wine, 1/2 cup of the sherry, 8 T of the butter, sugar, onions, salt, and pepper in a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish. Put in oven and braise, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the onions just begin to brown, 40 – 45 minutes. Remove casserole from oven, cover with foil, and continue braising in oven, stirring now and then, until caramelized, about 1 hour more. Keep the onions warm.
2. Meanwhile, tie the parsley, thyme, and bay leaves together with kitchen twine to make a bouquet garni, or put into one of those small cotton bouquet garni bags. Place in a large pot along with broth and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Remove and discard bouquet garni. Stir in remaining 3 T of sherry and cook for 5 minutes more.
3. While the broth simmers, spread the baguette slices with the remaining 2 T of butter. Toast in a skillet over medium heat, turning once, until golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Rub the slices generously with the garlic and set aside. Compost, or eat, any remaining garlic.
4. Heat broiler with rack 6″ from element. Arrange 6 heatproof bowls on a foil-lined baking sheet. Divide onions and broth between bowls, and stir together. Place 2 baguette slices in each bowl; top each with about 1 cup Gruyere and about 1/3 c Parmesan or Romano. Broil until cheeses are browned and bubbly, about 3 to 5 minutes.
5. The bowls will be hot, so be careful eating.