Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Reader, I'd like to introduce you to your new favorite onions. Uumm, onions. I know. There is nothing in this world better than the melting sweetness of a good roasted onion. Oh wait, yes there is. A good roasted onion doused in balsamic vinegar, pan fried and then left to sweat it out in the oven until its top layers curl into a slightly incinerated, but nonetheless rainbowed, paper-thin crunch. You don't normally think of the onion as sweet right off, but subjected to some serious heat, the layers caramelize and crust over, full of juice and sugar. And. To top it off. There are few onion tears, because they're merely quartered, not sliced or diced or any other thing. I personally have very sensitive eyes (you know, being so sensitive in general and everything (right)) and almost always cry over my onions. People make fun of the onion goggles? I wish for them every single time. Except this time, because even I can quarter an onion. (Plus, I can't really bring myself to embrace the onion goggle. My sense of irony isn't well developed enough.)
The original recipe is Michael Chiarello's and he wants these onions piled on top of a large porterhouse steak, which he starts in a pan and finishes in the oven. We had two smaller steaks, which I simply panfried with salt and pepper, mostly to appease R. I'm not a huge fan of hunks of meat in general. Or rather, I like them okay, but I only need about half before the flavor gets monotonous for me. I'd rather just eat the onions.
Balsamic Roasted Onions
Adopted from Michael Chirallo's Tra Vigne Cookbook
3 large red onions
Olive oil for the pan
Salt and pepper for seasoning
2 cloves garlic, passed through a press or minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, divided in half
Preheat the oven to 450 F. Peel the onions and cut them into quarter or thick wedges. Be sure to keep the root end attached so they don't break apart. In an ovenproof pan, heat the oil over medium-high or even high heat, add the onions, and cook them over the heat reduced to medium until they're brown on both sides. This will take 5-10 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper, then add the garlic and cook until it's light brown. Mere moments, really. Add the thyme, and then half of the vinegar (2 tablespoons) and toss the onions to coat them well. Be careful with this adding the vinegar part, because it can splatter.
Transfer the onions along with their pan into the oven and roast until they're tender, browned and even a little charred, about 30 minutes. Stir the onions once or twice during roasting so they don't adhere to the pan. Remove from the oven and put the onions on a plate. While the pan is still hot, add the last 2 tablespoons of balsamic and deglaze the pan by stirring and scraping up the brown bits (see, this process isn't just for meat!). Pour over the onions. Serve on a nice steak or pick at them with your little fingers.