Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A Perfect Confit

As I'm cleaning out the refrigerator (long overdue), I've been trying to preserve as much as possible, sometimes in new ways.

When I came across a recipe for a red onion confit last week, I knew that the red onions that appeared in last week's CSA were destined to end up in jars of that savory concoction. The recipe sounded much like my garlic-shallot jam recipe, and since I'm out of that, I thought this new version would be worth a try.

I pulled out the recipe early this morning (sometimes it's just not easy to sleep in during vacation), and I started with peeling the onions and slicing them thinly.

With a little olive oil in my trusty Pyrex saucepan, I sautéed the onions slowly, carmelizing them and prompting a wave of glorious fragrance to fill the kitchen.

Once the onions had reached the peak of brownness and translucency, I added sugar, salt, black pepper, and a hint of dried thyme from last year's farmers' market and allowed it all to simmer for several minutes, turning it into a sweet and savory brown syrup.

At that point, I added balsamic vinegar and the remains of a bottle of locally-produced cherry wine, stirring it all together and allowing the confit to simmer slowly, thickening along the way.

I didn't end up with much -- only three half-cup jars full of confit -- but it smelled and tasted heavenly and well worth the effort. I'm sure I'll use it much like I did the garlic-shallot jam, adding it for an extra hit of savory goodness in dishes like steamed kale, mashed potatoes, or topping a vegetable sauté.


Red Onion Confit

I found the recipe in Home Made, Best Made, a collection of useful recipes and other domestic skills that has offered me many good suggestions over the years. Since I was cleaning out the refrigerator, it didn't make sense to buy a bottle of regular red wine when I had the last of the cherry wine waiting to be consumed, and its tart sweetness proved the perfect foil for the onions. You might try other fruit wines (blackberry might be delightful!).

3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 T balsamic vinegar
1/2 to 1 c red wine (I used the lesser amount)

In a nonreactive saucepan, heat the oil. Sauté the onions over moderate heat until browned and translucent, about 20 minutes.

Stir in sugar, salt, thyme, and pepper. Turn heat down to low and cover pan, allowing mixture to simmer for 10 minutes.

Add vinegar and wine, and cook, uncovered, while stirring frequently, for 20 to 30 minutes. Mixture should thicken.

Ladle into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Add jar lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Allow to cool before storing.

Will be ready to serve in 4 weeks. Refrigerate once opened.

Makes under 1 pint

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At 7/12/2008 9:27 AM, Blogger valereee said...

Oh, yum! I need some of this!

At 7/14/2008 2:22 PM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

It's pretty easy to throw together. I made a quick version of it (sort of combined with the blueberry chutney) for a friend for dinner this weekend... very tasty and forgiving!


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