Thursday, July 19, 2012

An Ode to the Onion

I have such memories of onions. My first is of eating entirely too many little green onions from my grandparent's garden when I was very young. I remember the taste of the 7-Up that my mom administered to combat the belly ache that followed.

I will forever think of the onion sandwiches, crafted and adored by my mom, thickly spread with butter on white homemade bread with a fat slice of crunchy white onion grinning out from the middle. I never asked her to share that particular delicacy with me.

The french onion soups of my childhood have ruined me for most soup offerings in my adulthood. The smell of beef broth and sautéed onions still carries me back a few decades and makes me hungry for soppy croutons and thick broiler-kissed cheese.

And then...

I married a man who can stand neither the taste nor the smell of an onion.

Such is life.

I'd since cooled my relationship with the lovely onion, using it only as a minor character in soups and sauces and then, only diced and chopped and cooked so that only the faintest hint of taste peeked through. How awful, I reasoned, would it be to greet my Man at lunchtime or at the end of a long day reeking of the scent he loathed?

And then...

I found a way to have my onions and eat 'em too, and oh how I've welcomed these little beauties back into my life.  You need 'em in your life too, I'm sure. Very sure.

What you see, are red onions, sliced and tamed and kissed with just a whisper of sweetness.  They've made such a difference in my summer. drama, or exaggeration. When I wake up each morning, it's not long until I am thinking about what I can have for lunch that will be worthy of topping with these babies. After lunch, I begin similar plans for dinner. 

Enough jabber, here's how you too, can begin your onion obsession...

Recipe by Mollie Katzen in Salads

First, gather the equipment you'll need: 
two decent-sized bowls
(one for the sliced onions and one for discarding onion skins)
one quart jar (or two pints) for one recipe 
(or a tightly sealed container that you are confident won't make a mess in your fridge should it tip over!)
your favorite sharp knife
a cutting board placed atop a slightly damp towel (to prevent slipping)
a tissue or are working with onions!

Ingredients for a single batch:

a teapot of boiling water
4 red onions
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup room temperature water
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns 
(or a teaspoon of freshly ground pepper if you can't find your peppercorns)

 Cut the top and bottom off of the onions and remove the papery skin. Then slice the onions in half, making half circles of the rings.
 Then, lay the onion on the cut side, and slice into the width that you'd like to enjoy on your salads, beans, soups, barbecue, you get the idea.
 My slices always end up in various widths and that works just fine. 
The ideal is probably less than 1/4 inch.
 Set the onions aside while you prepare their "bath". 
First, put a kettle on to boil, or a pitcher in the microwave. All baths need really hot water.
While water boils, combine the rest of the ingredients except the onions.

 Vinegar and water...

and brown sugar which can be adjusted to your liking, my liking is 3 tablespoons.
Finally, the salt and pepper. Stir until the brown sugar has dissolved.

Place sliced onions in a colander in the sink and pour the boiling water over them slowly. This causes them to wilt just a little.
Allow them to drain well then remove them to the quart jar or pint jars (or very trusty sealable container).
You'll want to smush 'em in there pretty tightly because they wilt a little more as they absorb the vinegar and you want a full jar. A really full jar. I'm sure.

 Pour the vinegar mixture into the jar until onions are covered then add the lid.
Now for the hardest part...
Allow the jar(s) to sit on the counter for 3 to 6 hours. 
After about 6 hours you can enjoy your onions, but they are at their peak after an overnight soak in the fridge. So, tuck 'em into the fridge and tell them good night.  
Then when you wake up in the morning, you may begin planning for your lunch...

These are super on salads, pulled pork barbecue, tomato sandwiches, pasta, beans, rice, the possibilities are endless as is their shelf life in your fridge. The recipe says they "keep practically indefinitely" but that's not true here as they are a happy favorite of Kate, my most challenging eater!


G'ma suz said...

Thanks for the ones in my frig that you made during your fun visit. Easy to know the connection between you and that scrumptious little red or white vege! I craved onions while I was pregnant with you. Ate them like apples. . .what can you expect from your taste buds!!!
So glad you found a way to have your onions. And what a pretty little bit of "garden" in your frig. Love, MOM

kellypea said...

I love everything about onions and have always marveled at those who are able to detect them minced in a meatloaf or marinara to the extent that they are able to extract them and form a small pile on the side of their plate. I know we'd enjoy these -- I make a simple pink slaw with lots of red onions-- you're so right about letting them sit. The taste is heavenly. (and my mother used to eat those o ion sandwiches exactly as you've described!)

Hannah said...

Just clicked on your comment at Eating from the Ground Up, and lo and behold, landed on this perfect sounding recipe that I am going to make today! I have a surplus of uncured red onions from my CSA, I love Molly Katzen, and sweet pickled onions are my favorite salad, sandwich, or egg topping ... yes! Happy morning :)

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