Saturday, May 03, 2008

An obvious refinement

Two posts below I blathered on about LTLT and a caramelized white onion change in the onion confit (and, with the addition of raisins, a recipe heading out of the confit domain and into that of chutney). If LHLT is the method, what better tool than a crock pot? It seems obvious in retrospect, and so I had to try it.

This time, I made a full recipe -- 2 lbs. of onions to start with. We were out of chutney-esqe stuff for garnishing [1] and Vidalia onions (sweet yellow onions from a particular region of Georgia) are in season. And so I thought I’d try caramelizing the onions in the crock pot overnight. Slice & chop, into the pot, stir in some EVOO, cover, and turn on the pot. I let them go about ten hours on low. The limiting factor was that I had to leave for work the next morning, and so I went ahead and added the other ingredients before I left. Notes for future use:
  • next time, start this right when I get home from work so that they have about four more hours to caramelize;
  • use butter instead of EVOO; and
  • if the onions are just going to be used as caramelized onions per se, just do them in a large cast iron pot and keep stirring. (Music and a decent single malt will enhance the experience.)
Anyway, after about ten hours of cooking down, I added the tawny, white balsamic, honey, and raisins. I stirred it up, put the cover back on, and went to work. When I got home, I gave it a taste to see what I needed to add (nothing, this time), left the cover off, and turned the pot to high to start reducing the mixture. After 8 hours, it was almost thick enough. I think ten would have done the trick.

So the upshot is this: if I don't have the time to supervise, or if (like yesterday) there is a lot of other cooking that needs to happen and a chunk of the stove can’t be spared, the crock pot is a good solution. But it needs much more time than I originally thought. And the flavor of the caramelized onions is more intense if done more quickly over the stove.

BTW, the recipe cooked down to three pints (one quart jar, one pint jar). This would obviously be less if I let it reduce further.


[1] Or so I had thought. While I was simmering down the confit (or whatever it is), I asked SWMBO about a couple of plastic containers in the fridge. Turns out, one is an apple chutney. The other is also definitely in the chutney family, and much more sub-continent by the taste o it, but neither of us can remember what went into the making of it. So we're apparently set for chutneys at the moment, having a sweet apple chutney, and earthy onion confit, and some sort of curried chutney. Now we just have to cook things to put them on.

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