Saturday, October 24, 2009

Caramelized Balsamic Red Onions

Sometimes I wonder if I need a separate refrigerator just to hold condiments. In fact, I have posted 18 condiment recipes on this blog alone. I find that if I have an arsenal of condiments on hand, I have a pretty easy time whipping up some good eats. And so, I made space in my fridge to hold a jar of these red onions which are pure sweet and savory goodness.

This recipe stems from my love of caramelized onions and the amazing depth that they add to so many dishes. They were the perfect compliment to a grilled lamb steak we had for dinner. I also imagine they would be fantastic spooned into a bowl of creamy squash soup or as part of a cheese plate. I may take a stab at making some puff pastry tarts with the onions and some gorgonzola.

Although it takes a while to make this, the level of effort is quite low. The onions benefit from the low, slow heat and turn amazingly sweet. Please don't use just any old balsamic in this. The vinegar needs to be smooth, without any harshness, to add that final layer of flavor to the jam.

For about 2 cups:

  • 3 large red onions, peeled, both ends trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons packed, light brown sugar
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar

Quarter the onions, cutting each quarter into 1/2-inch thick slices.

In a dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Add the onions and stir to coat with the oil. Cook, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes.

Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the brown sugar, thyme, salt and cayenne. Stir to coat the onions. Allow to cook, stirring occasionally for 1 hour.

Remove the thyme stems. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and turn the heat back up to medium-high. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Pack the jam into sterilized, sealable jars, pressing down on the jam with a spoon to remove any air bubbles and store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.