I’m not usually one to go into a swoon over onions; but they just looked so good at Farmers’ Market on Saturday that I came home with a bag full of little vidalias. Then I said to myself, “Bill hates onions … what on earth am I going to do with these?” The answer, I realized, could certainly be found in Ruth Spear’s The Classic Vegetable Cookbook – first published in 1985, and amazingly, still available. When I found Ruth’s recipe for Confiture d’Oignons, I knew that it would be wonderful. However, I didn’t have any sherry vinegar in the house, so I substituted balsamic vinegar which I just love the flavor of. This made my confiture much darker colored (a dark brown instead of amber) and stronger flavored than it would have been if I had followed her recipe exactly. Also I added a small chenzo pepper when cooking the onions, just to add a little heat.
What does one do with onion marmalade? All kinds of things: serve it on crackers with cream cheese or chicken salad; serve on French bread; mix it into sour cream or Greek yogurt to make onion dip; serve with grilled portobello mushrooms; serve on top of meats in place of grilled onions; use to create gourmet burgers or sandwiches; add to sauces near the end of cooking; use in onion tarts; and, well, that’s all that I came up with for now. My husband ate about 6 Onion Marmalade Canapes before I told him what the topping was. Bill liked it! He liked it! The next night we had it on bison cheeseburgers and he declared them outstanding. Yeah! The onion dip with potato chips was really good too! (Photos below.)
Confiture d’Oignons (Onion Marmalade)
(makes about 1 pint)
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. sweet onions
1 small finely minced chili pepper
1 c. dry red wine
3/4 c. granulated white sugar
1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt (or to taste)
(1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
(2) Prepare onions. Cut the ends off and peel. Cut in half lengthwise, then thinly slice. Add olive oil to a large skillet and warm over medium-low heat. Add onions, separating the sections as they soften up, and cook until translucent and lightly golden. Do not brown onions.
(3) Meanwhile, make syrup. Add wine and sugar to a small stainless steel or enamel-lined pot. Stir. Bring to a full boil and cook until the wine is reduced to a syrup or reaches 230 degrees F. on a candy-thermometer. Stir in vinegar. Stir syrup into onions. Add pinch of salt.
(4) Finish cooking. Pour onion mixture into a 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish. Bake for about 1 hour or until mixture reaches a thin jam-like consistency, stirring mixture about every 15 minutes. Be sure not to burn the onions. Pour into a clean glass jar, being careful not to splash marmalade on yourself. Close jar with a lid and allow to sit at room temperature until cool enough to refrigerate. Marmalade should keep for about 3 months in the refrigerator.