27 July 2007

Onion Confit

One of my friends, let's call her "Faith", shudders at the thought of onions. At least, she will hate most of its applications (which is why you don't mention the ingredients of stuff to her). I haven't yet asked if she still hated the stuff, but I can understand why some people would be averse to onions. I on the other hand will pick out a (cooked) onion and eat it. Me being addicted to sweets as it is, I find ways to make savory things have a hint of sugar in it. Onions have natural compounds (I'm not sure if it's Alliacin) that, when heated, are transformed into sugars. When I came across this topic on the eGullet forums, I knew I had to try making my own Onion Confit.
Onion Confit
It begins with a working slow cooker. I think the only other uses we have had for it are Kalbi Jim (Korean beef rib stew) and stewed apples. It's in its box most of the time. The first step is to get the funkiest, nastiest, most pungent onions you can find. I made a mistake here, asking someone to buy them for me, because I got 6 mild-ish white onions instead. They didn't even make me cry when I cut them into half-wedges.

I tossed them with a half-stick (4 tablespoons) of unsalted butter and an uncertain quantity of olive oil (about 1/4 cup). I didn't season it yet. If you followed the link above, they recommended the addition of demiglace, which is a thick brown sauce made from veal stock. There is no way I could procure this, so I decided to skip it. Anyway, I decided to season it later. Looking back, I could have added a beef boullion cube or two to amp up my weak onions. I placed the slow cooker on HIGH setting with a cover on, because the smell is a bit strong while it's starting to cook. This is what it looked like after 3 hours:

After a while the smell became tolerable to the rest of the household and I necessarily had to take the cover off for the liquid to reduce to almost nothingness. This is what it looked like after 6 hours:

The flash was on as it was getting dark. All in all, I had it cooking on HIGH for a total of 14 hours. At around the 12 hour mark I added salt to taste and black pepper. When it was done, there was still quite a bit of oily liquid left, which I discarded, getting the limp brown remains of the onions. Tasting it now I realize it's not sweet enough (due to my onion selection) and not salty enough (due to my timid seasoning). Next time: funky onions, beef cubes and salt.

Anyway, 6 large white onions reduced into a little more than half a cup. I had it on toast. Not bad, but it's missing flavor. Definitely for onion lovers. It was kind of neat eating basically a whole onion on a small slice of bread.

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