Tuesday, 24 January 2012
I don’t know about you but I love a versatile ingredient; an item that can spark (at least) a dozen recipe or meal ideas and a flush of food-related excitement. There are many, many things that have that effect on me but there’s one in particular that I would like to share with you today.
Those two words set off a firework of cooking concepts in my mind; recipes sizzle in my sub-conscious while images flicker in front of my eyes. Caramelised white onions in bolognaise sauce, sweet fried onions piled onto cheese atop a crisp cracker, crumbly goats cheese tart mingled with caramelised red onions, a rich onion-y hit in soups and stews… the list goes on and on. My mouth is watering while I type!
You can buy jars of onions chutney in the supermarkets which is all well and good but you can easily make your own easily and cheaply at home. Onions are a staple which I always have in my store cupboard because they are the foundation of many (most!) of my savoury dishes. Caramelising simply involves cooking them over a low heat for an extended period of time to bring out their natural sweetness. Once cooked, they can be kept for up to a week in the fridge but I doubt very much that they will last that long! If you have enough self-control, a jar of deliciously soft and sweet onions can make a fantastic gift idea for foodies.So if you’ve ever wondered how to make caramelised onions, read on.
I’d love to spend tons of time slaving over the stove but I genuinely don’t have the time. My recipe below gives you a cheat’s option which side steps the traditional yet time-consuming caramelising process. Of course, if you have the time to spare, by all means sweat them down over an hour or so to get the most out of them. If, like me, you’re short on time but need your onion fix, give this easy healthy recipe a go!
Balsamic caramelised onions
Makes 1 jar
2 onions (red or white)
1 tsp sunflower oil or butter
½ tsp sugar or honey
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Halve the onions, peel and slice. Sniffle.
- Pour in the oil (or butter, allowing it to melt if using) to a heavy based frying pan over a medium heat.
- Add the onions and sweat (covering with a lid) for five minutes or until softened.
- Remove the lid and reduce the heat. Cook for a further 10 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. The onions may catch on the bottom of the pan which is okay but don’t let them burn. If the mixture starts to look too dry, add a little water.*
- Add the sugar/honey and salt and stir well.
- Drizzle the onions with balsamic vinegar and use a metal or wooden spatula to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer until the balsamic has evaporated.
- Store in a jar in the fridge for up to a week. Smother on crackers, add to cheese toasties... the possibilities are endless!
*At this point, you could cook for up to an hour if you have time for a more traditional caramelised flavour.