JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Monday, November 05, 2007

Roasted red onions

An honest laborious countryman, with good bread, salt, and a little parsley, will make a contented meal with a roasted onion
. John Evelyn 1620-1706

This morning the BBC news website carried a story about the good effects of eating onions, and it reminded me that it's a long time since we've eaten onions as a separate vegetable ... it's not something I think of in the summer. I thought I'd try a new method, using Skye Gingell's book A Year in my Kitchen.

I've read this book, and it's full of original ideas, good ones. Her restaurant at Petersham Nurseries is widely praised. I've been puzzled as to why this book hasn't had much impact, and now I know ... the recipes don't work. Or at least, this one didn't. It's the same old problem of catering cooks not being able to scale down to the domestic kitchen.

I rescued it, and it was delicious, but I'd do it differently next time. Here's the recipe as printed:

Roasted red onions

5 medium red onions, peeled
100g caster sugar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
200 ml balsamic vinegar
50 ml extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180C. Slice the onions into pinwheels, about 3mm thick, and spread out on a baking tray. Sprinkle with the sugar and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Pour over the balsamic vinegar and olive oil and mix together lightly with your hands. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes or so, turning them (with tongs or a wooden spoon) and basting half way through cooking. When the onions are ready, they should be deep purple in colour and glistening, tasting sweet and sharp at the same time.

The trouble is that they're not cooked after 30 minutes. And there's too much liquid, which hasn't begun to reduce down. I gave mine nearly an hour, and even then I had to reduce the liquid hard for several minutes. Then it was delicious. Only there was far too much sugar. 50g max next time. Oh yes, and I realised after I'd got past the point of no return that I only had about 60ml balsamic vinegar, so I topped it up with some dry sherry. I can't think how black it would have been if I hadn't cut the vinegar.

Lucius liked this a lot, so I will tinker with it a little. And treat other recipes in Skye Gyngell's book with a great deal of caution.


Anonymous said...

You are an onion hero haha You saved the day!

Wendy said...

Was just reading a Nigel Slater article about roasting onions and thinking the same as you - I never eat them as a side.
Time to do so, I think.

Magic Cochin said...

Although we like onions roast with root veg, we don't have them as a 'veg' on their own - we should, as they are sweet and soft and totally different when cooked. As a child I had lunch with my Grandparents every day and boiled onions (whole) served with white sauce were a regular side veg with stewing beef and kidney or faggots.


Joanna said...

In the winter, I try to have onions as a separate dish at least once a week - they're delicious, good for you, cheap, etc etc. I love them. But somehow I forget in the summer, even though this year we've eaten a lot of pissaladiere ... I don't know why they don't seem like a summery vegetable to me

Anonymous said...

This looks so good, Joanna, lovely cabbage picture too.

farmingfriends said...

This looks delicious Joanna, I will certainly be trying it. Sara from farmingfriends