Wondering why New England diners serve a bowl of onions alongside their Thanksgiving feast? Well, this is one dish that is meant to be enjoyed solo. The gentle cooking of the pearl onions, their mostly mild flavor, and the creamy sauce that enrobes them makes these onions not only palatable, but enjoyable.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and blanch the pearl onions for about a minute in the hot water. Then, transfer the onions to an ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain and peel the onions.
Place onions and the salt in a small pan. Add enough water to just cover. Bring the water to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the onions with a parchment lid, and cook for about 20 minutes or until tender.
Drain and transfer the onions to a baking dish. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
While the oven is heating, melt half the butter in a pan. Then, add the all-purpose flour, stir, and cook for a minute. Slowly add in the cream while stirring to prevent lumps. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and add the onions. Pour the cream sauce on top of the onions.
Melt the remaining butter in a skillet. Toast the breadcrumbs in the butter for about three minutes. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top of the onions, and bake for about 30 minutes or until bubbling.