Saturday, August 29, 2009

Recipe: Caramelized Onions

One theme I've been thinking about recently is this recurring idea of "Luxe for Less". This concept can be applied to some inexpensive home-made recipes that really take the cake on the store-bought version, or, quick, simple ways that you can jazz up recipes or well-worn dishes.

This is a really simple side dish or garnish that really adds to meat dishes or burgers. What you do is get some red onions (I tend to use 4-5 large ones) and slice them thinly. You can slice them in half, then in thin half-rounds or if you're aesthetically picky, you can slice them all in round onion rings. I tend to make a big batch of this and then freeze the remainder, so when you need an emergency side or garnish for meat, it's already there waiting for you. The way this recipe approximates also makes it a bit hard to make a wee little bit for say, 2 people.

Heat a pan and add a small slice of butter and 3 Tbsp of olive oil (or grapeseed oil, if you prefer). Saute your onion shavings, leaving them to cook and soften in the pan. This can take up to 10-15 minutes if you've crowded your pan. If you have a pan that you've used to sear meat and then deglazed, you can use the same pan for these onions. You can also add thyme or rosemary to your onions if you fancy. This will all add to the flavour absorbed by the onions, which should now have turned wet, transculent and shiny.

Throw 3 heaped soup spoons of white sugar into the onions and stir to distribute. The heat will continue to melt the sugar into the onion mixture. When the sugar has at least partially dissolved, pour in 1/2 a cup (feel free to approximate, depending on how many onions you've used, you may need more or less sugar and balsamic) of balsamic vinegar into the onions and mix again.

As you cook the mixture, the onions will continue to soften, take on a dark hue and the resulting liquid will thicken slightly. The mixture is done, as soon as the vinegar is well distributed and the onions are an even colour. You can either drain away the liquid, or save it for something else. Serve a heapful of this on burger patties or with steak, or pack it like a skin, over a hot roast. Delish!

Just a note, this works with yellow or white onions too but it really actualizes itself with red onions which are sweeter and caramelize better. If you use small red onions, you will probably have to use 8-10 little ones but the trade-off is that the small little rings and dainty shavings are aesthetically very pretty, especially when plated with small-boned meat like frenched lamb rack.

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