I made a whole dinner around these onions last night, and, because they were so darn good, I thought they deserved their very own post.
Who doesn’t love slow-cooked, carmelized onions? I don’t know one person who would refuse such a delightful treat. I am a devotee of every variety in the onion family!
Onions have been an important part of our lives since ancient times when bronzed Greek athletes would eat large quantities of them to enrich their blood and make them stronger, not to mention the fact that gladiators would rub their muscles down with raw onions to ensure a good performance!
I start almost every dinner with sautéing onions, and it makes the house smell sweet and mouth-wateringly delicious. Throw a couple of onions on the pan and it inevitably summons a crowd to the kitchen inquiring, “when will dinner be ready!”
In Ireland a favorite pub snack is a grilled cheese sandwich with a smattering of thinly sliced onions. If you have never tried it, now is the time. The crunch and tang of the onions in combination with the melting cheese and greasy bread is addictive.
Last night I bought two giant sweet onions just to have in the pantry, but, when I got them home, all I wanted to do was eat them both for dinner. if I were alone I would have cooked them up just how I did last night and simply piled them on a piece of toasted crusty bread, finishing it off with a shower of freshly cracked black pepper. Maybe next time…
If I remember in time, one of my favorite things to do with onions is to cook them in butter for a long time. It is nothing new and most people know how to do this. Sometimes sugar can be added to enhance the sweetness that comes from the slow-cooking. I was using sweet onions so didn’t bother.
Darina Allen, Ireland’s foremost authority in the kitchen, makes a dish called melted leeks, which is basically the same thing, only using leeks. This is also nothing new, but I loved her description “melted” to describe what happened to them after a lengthy time on the stove top.
As I began to cook my big pan of half-moon slices, I decided to add something new to the mix. I had bought a jar of cumin seeds to cook with some pork chops last week (see post “Crusty Pork Chops”) and still had the taste on my tongue. Why not flavor the onions with cumin seeds?
What a great idea (of course, I’m sure it has been done before!). The onions and cumin were perfect partners, working off each other to bring out the most flavor possible.
I cooked some pork tenderloin and a side of braised collard green to go with them and it was delicious. Cumin can be an acquired taste so was hoping my kids would not balk. I am happy to report that I got rave reviews. With all the food piled on their plate they were unaware that the star of the dish was the melted onions laced with cumin.
This side-dish would be great on so many things; pork chops, grilled chicken, steak, any fish, tossed in pasta with a little broth and cream, on a grilled cheese sandwich, on a cuban sandwich (on any sandwich), in an omelette, the list goes on.
Buy a couple of sweet onions this weekend and experiment.
You will need: 2 large sweet onions (or yellow onions and 1 tsp sugar), cut in half & sliced into medium-sized half-moons, 3 tbs unsalted butter, 2 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper, 1/2 tsp sea-salt (I used Maldon salt flakes).
1 – Put a big pan on medium heat (one that has a lid) and add the butter. When it has melted, add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes.
2 – Add the seasonings and give a stir. Continue to cook like this for about 15 more minutes, adjusting heat if necessary and stirring occasionally.
3 – Cover with lid and continue to cook for another 30 minutes, or, until the onions are meltingly soft.
Serve with whatever you please (see above for suggestions)