This past weekend we spent a day/night in Philadelphia, which was my second ever visit to the city. The first was a business trip in the middle of the week, of which 90% of my time was spent locked in a training room. Obviously I begged to make it to an authentic cheesesteak stand this time and I probably would have been sublimely happy if we had done nothing else but eat a cheesesteak. To my great surprise, the cheesesteak was not the culinary star of the trip (it was still divine. get the cheese whiz and I promise you will not regret it).
Before we left for Philly, we asked friends for restaurant suggestions and landed on a small plates style restaurant for dinner. The Continental Mid-Town had one of the most diversely ethnic menus I’ve come across. Thai dishes, lobster mac & cheese, Mediterranean influences, Japanese inspired flavors, Indian dishes, this place was all over the map and I loved it. But when I looked at the menu before we went (because who doesn’t salivate and plan out what they’re ordering a week ahead of time?) I only had eyes for the French Onion Soup Dumplings. Yes, you read that correctly. Some genius decided to put French Onion Soup in dumpling form, and it was much more delicious than I could have ever imagined. So immediately after our return, I set about finding a recipe and making these little pieces of pure happiness happen in my own kitchen.
French Onion Soup Dumplings (adapted from Kerry Saretsky’s recipe on Serious Eats)
one package wonton wrappers (available at most grocery stores in the refrigerated section by the fresh vegetables)
1 cup Gruyère, grated
1/3 cup Parmesan, grated
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 sweet yellow onions, thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon sugar
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup cognac
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup beef stock
1 bay leaf
The leaves of 4 sprigs thyme
First, thinly slice all onions. Melt butter on medium low heat in a large saute pan and add onions, sugar, salt and pepper. I always use a large saute pan because I’m paranoid about “crowding” my onions – a phrase I’ve heard used and still don’t quite understand what it means. But I’m not going to crowd these guys darn it. Cook onions down until soft and carmelized, approximately 30 minutes.
Add cognac, wine, beef stock, bay leaf and thyme. Make sure you take the pan off the burner before you add the cognac, or you risk setting everything on fire. I think there’s a better way to detail what will happen if you don’t remove from the flame, but I know it’s not good. Simmer on low for an additional 30 minutes.
Strain the onions and save the broth they were cooking in. Get rid of the bay leaf. Lay out the wonton wrappers. Brush each wrapper liberally with the broth.
I will say, mine turned out a little chewy. I read the comments on the original recipe and saw similar trends. I think the next time I make these I will also brush the outsides of the wrappers and consider putting a little broth at the bottom of my muffin tin to steam.
Spoon 1-2 teaspoons of the onion mixture in the center of each wonton wrapper. I thought this didn’t seem like much, but its harder than you would think to get these to seal. I actually ended up scooping a little bit out of each one shown in the below picture.
Now all of the recipes I’ve seen tell you to make a beggars purse with the wonton/filling. I had to google it. Basically, you bring all of the sides and corners together and pinch until closed. I started by pinching two corners together, and then folding the remaining 2 corners in on themselves, squeezing really hard and saying a prayer it would all come together.
I then placed each bundle in a mini muffin tin (my muffin tin is non-stick, so I do not know if there will be a sticking issue with a regular tin). The original recipe said to place seam side down, which I read as “upside down”. I was terrified the filling would all leak out, so I placed seam side up. I think next time I will place seam side down however, as everything stayed together quite nicely. I think it will help with the steaming of the dumpling wrapper and cut down on chewiness.
Liberally cover each dumpling with a mixture of the cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes, and then place in the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
I love how unique this idea is. I definitely will be adding to my entertaining rotation and will likely be trying to figure out what other delicious fillings can go into a wonton. I’m hooked.