Caramelised Onions

8 Aug

I have never had Popovers, I’d never even heard of them before. I am intrigued by them now. How does that stunning shape form on top?

I am in Melbourne, hoping that one day the house we are building will be finished, and am being graciously hosted by my father and step-mum. B’s post made me think of many delicious tangents, rhubarb muffins, a friend suggested cheese blintzes, but this house is mostly a sugar free house, and one person is wheat free too. So if I am cooking up a storm, I want it to be something to share.

I have always found caramelised onions to be magic. You take a basic ingredient, onion, and with a little oil, and a whole lot of stirring over heat, it becomes this intense, sweet and versatile mess. The way I imagine popovers, it would taste great on them. It also works on a simple steak or a slice of bread and cheese. Tonight I am planning to toss it through some baked potato cubes and serve it alongside some pan-fried fish.

Often when I go to a restaurant and they say they have caramelised onions, I am disappointed as they aren’t caramelised to this same point of bliss. I really do recommend making them yourself sometime. They are quite a bit of work, only because of the stirring, but it pays to make them yourself for a flavour you don’t get elsewhere.

Here is what I started with… small onions, oil, rosemary and bay leaves.



The recipe I use is from this book, Stephanie Alexander’s famous The Cook’s Companion. She cleverly lists no times, as it really does depend on how high you have the heat. I seem to always have the heat a little too low to begin with, and turn it up as I go. This time I spent an hour and a half cooking.

First I peeled and chopped the onions… then put all of the ingredients in to a heavy bottomed pan, gave it a stir, and then put the lid on. Over medium heat I left them to cook for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes until softened.

Then I took the lid off, and continued to cook. Stirring frequently, I cook and scraped the pan of the delicious pieces that stick a little, until the whole pan full had reduced down and was a ‘rich caramel brown’.  They reduce so dramatically, don’t be afraid as you cut up what seems like mounds and mounds of onion.

Like alchemy huh?

Sweet, without adding a touch of sugar, and the added bonus of the house smelling wonderful.

In theory, they last a few days in the fridge. Strangely enough, mine never seem to hang around much longer anyway.

Have you ever made them B? Where do they take you?

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Caramelised Onions
Recipe by Stephanie Alexander, from The Cook’s Companion

Stephanie says: This is my favourite way to eat onion. You can add it to many other sandwiches or to pasta, or use it in frittatas, as a topping for a quick pizza, on a piece of grilled tuna, in a warm salad of chick peas or to add instant depth of flavour to a stew.

20 small or pickling onions, peeled
half cup olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 sprig rosemary

Quarter or slice onions. Tip all ingredients into a heavy-based frying pan over a moderate heat. (A non-stick pan also does a good job. Be careful to use a non-scratching implement for stirring.) Cover pan and cook for 15 minutes until the onion has begun to soften, stirring frequently. Remove cover and continue to cook, stirring, until the onion has started to turn a rich caramel brown. It doesn’t matter if sections look very dark – this adds flavour. The important thing is to stir frequently to prevent sticking. (If this looks likely, add an extra spoonful of oil. The onions can be drained of any excess oil before using.)

The onions and their oil keep well in a covered container in the refrigerator for several days. The oil is just as delicious as the onions!

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2 Responses to “Caramelised Onions”

  1. Mare 08/08/2012 at 7:31 pm #

    I use mine in vegetarian lasagne. It is divine.

    • Alice 08/08/2012 at 7:53 pm #

      Do you make them the same way Mare?

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