The simplest version, dry bread slowly cooked with water and salt, sometimes an egg stirred in at the end, squeezed one last meal from a stale loaf of bread. Some think that adding caramelized onions and cheese led to the iconic French onion soup.
The resemblance to traditional bread stuffing (or dressing, depending on your regional preference) makes panade perfect for a holiday feast. But as legendary cook and author Richard Olney noted, an onion panade makes a hearty winter meal. “A young dry white wine, a slightly chilled Beaujolais or an icy beer are all appropriate accompaniments,” he wrote in the New York Times almost 50 years ago, “Add a salad. Put a bowl of apples on the table. It is as simple as that.”
For the shopping list
medium onions, halved and sliced
leeks, halved lengthwise and sliced
head green cabbage, chopped
dried bread cubes
From the kitchen
Dutch Oven or Deep Casserole Pan
Large Mixing Bowl
so I caramelize leeks and onions, then add some green cabbage. The French prefer Gruyere in their panade, but I used the milder Ferndale caciotta, a local cow’s milk cheese, along with Parmigiano Reggiano.
Set your oven to 325F.
Cook the onions and leeks in 1/2 cup of olive oil over low heat for at least 45 minutes (longer is better), stirring occasionally, until the onions are darkly caramelized. If they begin to scorch, add a few spoonfuls of water and keep cooking.
Combine the onion-leek mix, chopped cabbage, dried bread, 2 tablespoons of crushed thyme, 1 teaspoon of salt, and grated cheeses in a large bowl. Mix well
Transfer to a deep casserole pan or Dutch oven spread evenly.
Carefully pour the broth into the pan until it’s just below the surface of the top layer. Use more broth or water if needed.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the panade, then cover loosely with foil (or place the lid on the Dutch oven). Bake for 2 hours, then remove from the oven to check. The edges should be lightly browned, and the panade should be soft and moist.
Remove the foil and parchment paper, turn up the oven to 375F, and cook until the top is nicely browned, about 20 minutes.
When you need to cook a feast but can’t face another turkey, make this roast pork loin with red miso gravy.