Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Caramelized Red Onions


"No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader"
(Robert Frost)

This post comes tear-stained. Caramelized onions required industrial quantities of sliced onions. What scientists in the journal Nature identified as the onion’s “irritating lachrymatory factor” has reduced me to a sobbing wreck. Freddie and Alex watched from behind a glass door. They like a kitchen drama and I was about to perform. I put on my trusty goggles which I keep in a drawer next to the cooker. These came with a Make Your Own Volcano Kit and are the same goggles that rescued me from being blinded by horseradish fumes.
I tried to put the goggles on without wiping onion juice in my eyes.
“Damn, damn, damn.”
Chris came in.
“Do you know what you look like?”
I swore at him and he retreated behind the glass doors. Through my plastic goggles I could see him looking into the kitchen, weeping with laughter. The plastic goggles misted over, I misjudged the chopping and sliced at my thumb. Chris stopped laughing. There was a look of pity on his face. My mound of sliced onions was decorated with a swirl of red blood. He took the knife from me, removed the goggles and placed my bleeding thumb under running water.

The blood-contaminated onions were thrown out and we started again. The food processor, a birthday present, was unwrapped and wired up. A new batch of onions were created in two minutes without tears. With my plastered-thumb, I made caramelized red onions served with sausages and potato mash. The more you cook them, the better they taste. The children came back into the kitchen for supper and Freddie scored them 8 out of 10. Question is, was this a sympathy vote?
Caramelized red onions
Serves 4 as a side dish
8 – 10 medium sized red onions
3 tbsp olive oil or unsalted butter
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1-2 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp of water
Salt and pepper to season

Finely slice the onions. A food processor will make this job far less painful. It may seem like a lot of onions but they reduce dramatically as they cook. In a large pan, heat the olive oil or butter. Add the onions and cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring to make sure they don’t burn.
Add the vinegar, maple syrup and water and stir well. Cover and cook for another 25 minutes on a low heat. Then take off the lid and cook for another 15 minutes. The onions should reduce and will be a lovely golden brown colour. If it looks as if it is drying out, make sure the temperature isn’t too hot and add a little more water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

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  1. Definitely NOT a sympathy vote - caramelised onions are about as good as it gets - and I don't put maple syrup in mine (yet!). Food processor definitely the way forward for large quantities, or, failing that, a mandolin. Anything to make it quick.

    Anyone who thinks they don't like onions just needs to cook them slower, I find

    Thanks for sharing

  2. Charlotte, I agree with you that we have to question this vote. :)

    Sorry about you cutting your finger. I love red onions but just don't like them cooked because they lose their beautiful bright colour :) Is that silly?

  3. Hi Charlotte,
    Hmm, slicing onions eh ? If you want to give onions another go, I have a recipe on my blog, called Pissaladiere and it is really yum.

  4. Hiya, had to stop by your blog again to see your new recipes.... I love onions, that is one vegetable I make I have in the house all the time.

    Hope your thumb is healing nicely and quickly :-)

  5. No I don't think you got a sympathy vote for the dish from Freddie. It sounds delicious and very comforting. I will use my food processor to slice the onions!!!

  6. Patricia -
    I have taken a note of your recipe and we will try it - though right now Freddie has demanded a vegetable change and pronto.
    But that doesnt mean we wont try the recipes people recommend..

  7. I wish it could be 'O is for Onion' day every day. Such a humble and important veg.


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