Tag Archives: onions

Karma from Caramelized Onions

13 Jun

Sometimes when I find myself in a culinary rut I make the simplest thing I can think of. I feel like when I get so caught up in trying new things that aren’t working or making dinners that are lacking magic that I sometime doubt my talent. Sometimes when I’m wondering why I choose to leave my steady desk job to take up cooking, I go back to the simple flavors that inspired me in the beginning.

There are certain things that I make that have universal appeal and tons of applications. One of my favorites is caramelized onions. To achieve the perfect caramelized onion you need 4 things. Butter, salt, onions and lots of patience. You might think that caramelized onions are easily achieved in 5 minutes flat, but the truth is that they can take up to 45 minutes to be completely perfect.

The key to melty, sweet, flavorful caramelized onions is to go low and slow. Slice your onions as thinly as you can with the grain. As long as you move your knife in a radial movement that matches the curve of the onion you will wind up with pieces of onion that are exactly the same size. If you cut your onions against the grain, your onions will have a funny shape in the end, looking more like tape worms than melted onions.

Start your pan on medium heat and add in the butter. (Yes, I realize there are no measurements listed, just keep reading) Let the butter melt and add in your sliced onions. Stir to coat the onions in the butter. Season with the salt. Stir. Don’t rush the stirring. Basically you want to keep the onions moving just enough so that they don’t brown unevenly. Keeping the temperature low will help with this. Don’t walk away too long when you are doing this or the onions will stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. While stirring the onions you will at some point hit a wall where the zen of stirring will give way to impatience and hunger. Do NOT turn up the heat. Your patience will be rewarded.

Do you know what the color of caramel it? If you don’t, google it and keep that color in the back of your mind. The onions will be the color of light caramel when they are ready to be pulled. They are fine to be used as is but can be punched up to even higher heights. Whenever you cook anything in a sauté pan, you wind up with little brown bits at the bottom of your pan. Those bits are called suc or fond and are FULL of flavor. In order to release said tasty morsels, you need liquid. Sure you can use water, but why not add more flavor to your already flavorful onions. My top 2 choices are marsala wine and balsamic vinegar. Both have sweetness which ups the anti of the onions. I also add a little bit of water. The water helps to loosen up the mass of onions and mellow the bold flavor of the wine or vinegar as it reduces.

Notice that I have never said to add sugar. There is plenty of sugar in the onions to cause the caramelizing process. Adding sugar is the lazy man’s way to hurry the process along.

Once you have your glorious onion mixture, use it in a tart, on burgers, on chicken, salmon or vegetables. Caramelized onions taste great as a cheese accompaniment. They pair well with goat cheese, parmesan and gouda.

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie

Yes, I do love sausage

10 Nov

IMG_0935One of my favorite all time meals is sausage and peppers. It’s rustic and beautiful. The sweetness of the peppers and the onions make the spices in the sausage sing. A match made in heaven.

When I make my version I use plenty of mild Italian sausage with lots of fennel and black pepper. I made this last batch when I was up visiting my brother. On his recommendation, I went to this little Italian market called Lino’s. If you are in the neighborhood, it’s a must. They make 3 different kinds of sausage in house. I bought the mild and was delighted to find huge pieces of peppercorns, garlic and fennel seed inside. They also used natural casings so when the sausage cooks, it makes the sausage crisp up on the outside. It was also very moderately priced at 2.29 per pound.

Back to the recipe. I like to make lots of extra onions and peppers to go with the sausage. Maybe it’s the idea that if I eat more vegetables I won’t feel as guilty eating the sausage. When making the dish for more than 2, adjust the ratios as necessary. Here’s what I do:

Sausage and Peppers

1 pound mild Italian sausage
1 large red bell pepper, julienne
1 large green bell pepper, julienne
1 large yellow onion, julienne
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the sausage into 2-3 inch pieces and sear in a hot pan. Let the sausages cook for 10- 15 minutes and then remove from the pan. Add the peppers are onions into the pan to sauté. Let cook until soft and season with salt and pepper. Add the sausage back into the pan and heat through.

Now, how do you complete the meal? Well I serve mine with my mom’s recipe for garlic roasted red potatoes. But you could certainly serve it over pasta, or rice. It is also fantastic served on a hoagie roll with a little brown mustard. Like I said this a rustic dish that should be treated that way. No need for fancy sauces or plating. Just serve it. The flavors are warm and hearty. Great for the cooler nights of late fall and early winter.

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie