Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Potluck Recipe #25: Onions, Three Ways

In honor of the pounds and pounds of onions coming to our kitchen from Open Farms, here are three ways to prepare them. Why not host an onion-themed potluck for Open Arms this month?

Balsamic Red Onions

There are a lot of recipes for this concoction, many of which are a sort of confit featuring lots of butter and a more caramelized onion. I prefer the simple, bright sweetness of the balsamic alone. I love these onions on spinach salads, with Manchego cheese on a cracker, and atop burger or steak.

1 large red onion, peeled, chopped in half and sliced thin
1-2 tbsp of sweet, mellow balsamic vinegar
Pepper to taste

1. Heat the balsamic vinegar -- in as small a sauce pan as will accommodate your onion -- until it is almost simmering.
2. Add the red onion, cooking until it is soft and has absorbed all of the balsamic vinegar; do not allow it to brown.
3. Remove from heat and pepper to taste. If serving on meat, use warm; on salad, allow it to cool completely.

Fried Yellow Onions

These are not onion rings, these are crispy little onion strings that melt in your mouth. A Danish friend introduced them to me — on a hot dog, of all places. I have since discovered that they are tasty on top of vegetables, steak, fish, stew … well, pretty much anywhere. Sometimes, every last one of them is devoured before they get to the plate.

1 yellow onion, sliced into paper thin rings
Vegetable or canola oil

1. Dry onion strings between paper towels — it doesn't hurt to stack handfuls of onions between paper towels and weight them with a book. After a few hours, they should be relatively dry and ready to fry.
2. Heat 2-3 inches of oil on medium-high in a small sauce pan until it reaches 350 degrees.
3. Add a small handful of onions to the hot oil using a large slotted spoon, cooking until just golden (a minute or less)
4. Using the slotted spoon, remove onions to a paper bag or towels and allow oil to drain.
5. Enjoy!

Caramelized Onions

When you slowly cook onions over an extended length of time, their natural sugars caramelize, making them meltingly tender and sweet. Caramelizing takes a bit of time, but your patience will be well-rewarded. The flavorful results of your labor are awesome on pizza, especially when combined with gorgonzola cheese and thinly sliced pear.

2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy skillet over medium-low heat.
2. Spread the onion slices evenly over the pan, sprinkle with salt and a little pepper, and let them cook, stirring occasionally. Depending on the strength of your burner, you may need to reduce the heat to prevent the onions from browning too quickly or burning. Add a little bit of water to the pan if they start to dry out.
3. Continue to cook and occasionally scrape the pan until the onions are tender, sweet, and a deep golden brown. This process usually takes about 25-30 minutes.

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